Jamel Thomas’ personal struggles have been as well-documented as his basketball career.
It is well known that the former Providence College star’s story began in Brooklyn where, as a boy, he faced hurdles and hardships before growing into a young man who found success on the basketball court.
His journey from his painful youth to his successful collegiate and professional basketball career had more ups and downs than a Coney Island roller coaster. Through it all, with the help of many, Thomas persevered.
Now, Thomas’ mission is to help others do the same.
In fact, a recent hardship ignited the Providence College Hall of Famer and former Big East leading scorer’s desire to create something positive for others.
This past spring, he lost his adopted mom and his brother to Coronavirus. He was devastated.
To make matters worse, many gyms – often Thomas’ refuge – had been forced to close due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Without access to gyms, Thomas’ basketball training business had slowed down considerably.
“I needed to do something to keep busy, keep my mind occupied,” said Thomas.
So he turned his focus and energies to launching an eponymous clothing brand; an athleisure array of hoodies, shirts and hats. The clothing line debuted ahead of schedule with a mission – to help others.
Everybody go support my brother clothes🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/sllM2fHZF2
— Shammgod (@therealshammgod) June 27, 2020
The 44 year-old NYC legend who, as a sophomore, led Providence to the Elite Eight more than two decades ago is using a portion of the proceeds from his newly launched clothing line to help children. His goal is support to charities that benefit underprivileged kids.
His clothing line’s logo indicates his desire to help others. It’s the same logo he created years ago for a book he wrote, “The Beautiful Struggle.” It signifies a sense of hope, faith, courage and strength, traits he wishes he’d learned way back as an orphan on the streets.
“The little boy in the logo is me, a young Jamel,” Thomas said. “The man he is reaching out to is an adult Jamel Thomas. I’m telling my younger self, four years old that even though my mother was killed and I never met my Father, everything is going to be alright.”
Because so many had made sure Thomas was alright through his journey, he is making it his mission to give back to others. He has already begun by providing hope to a little 7 year-old little boy whose father died recently of Coronavirus.
“Whatever he needs…someone to talk to, clothes, help with school, anything…I’ll be there for him,” said Thomas. “Always.”
It’s just the beginning for Thomas, who has a young son of his own.
He worries about children in NYC’s underserved communities who are distance learning. He’s concerned that if they’re not in school, they won’t have food to eat, discipline and mentors.
“I want to help kids,” said Thomas. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’m doing this.”
His mission is resonating with a wide audience as the line’s popularity is growing. Those who are wearing his gear include six time WNBA All-Star and Olympic Gold Medalist Chamique Holdsclaw, many former NBA stars, Ben Osborne, editor in chief of Bleacher Report, and Daniella Vitale, executive vice president and chief brand officer at Tiffany’s. Vitale, who previously served as CEO of Barneys NY, has a piece in yellow.
Of course, Thomas has support from his former PC teammates and Friar family including his close friend God Shammgod, Austin Croshere, Ruben Garces and John Linehan.
“I’m so proud of him. His message is unique and his mission is inspiring,” said Garces. “Jamel is a voice to all those NYC kids that don’t have one. Everything he has done has been phenomenal – from his book to the play and now the clothing line that is a fresh line to NYC style of fashion . To give back a percentage of his revenue is even better. That says a lot about who he is, how he was raised and how much he has matured through the years. I’m honored to call him my brother and so proud of his mission.
”Linehan, now an assistant coach at Georgia, bought matching hoodies for himself and his son. While Linehan loves the gear, he loves Thomas’ mission even more.
“I had to buy the gear. It’s amazing. He (Jamel) is an inspiration,” said Linehan. “He‘s been into helping kids ever since he was young. There were a couple kids out there in Providence that he used to bring to the dorms to make sure they saw something different besides the drugs and violence that was happening in the house projects near PC. He has a huge, huge heart. I know he had a tough upbringing. He doesn’t want to see kids in the same situation that he went through.
“His mission is to help any kid he can,’ “ said Linehan. “That’s what he loves to do and that’s what he is doing with this clothing line. It symbolizes the beautiful struggle….His mom was killed when he was young. He grew up without a dad. He had a lot of mentors..people who looked out for him. That’s what he wants to do…look out for others. It’s only fitting that he is giving back and helping others. His story from where he comes from has been a struggle and where he is now is beautiful. “