Trials & Tribulations: The Story Of South Dakota State Lineman Jalen Lee
“Where you live should not determine whether you live, or whether you die.” – Bono
It has not always been a smooth journey for Jalen Lee, the 6'2 Offensive Lineman from the Southside of Chicago. A small suburb about 15 minutes away from Downtown Chicago with close to 4500 people: growing up in Robbins was tough, people judged the family on things that other family members had done or are doing. And in their eyes, a chip was created on shoulders trying to outgrow the legend that Jalen's dad was on the hardwood.
Crime and trouble were prevalent in the community, but sports kept the family far from it. Jalen's father played a tremendous role in what Robbins once was. Still, with different people in charge of the community it took a significant blow, and because of that many of the sports programs were taken away.
Growing up in Robbins as an athlete gives you a sense of pride from the likes of just announced hall of fame guard Dwayne Wade, Keke Palmer, and Joe Montgomery. When people hear you're from Robbins they automatically know that comes with the characteristics of being a gritty, tough, and hungry individual.
As an incoming senior majoring in Sports Management at South Dakota State University, Jalen Lee gets his motivation from his family, particularly his parents, brothers, and his four nieces at home who call their "Uncle J" SUPERMAN! His parents have been supporting him since his youth football days practically being in the end zone yelling "Get the ball back J!" All three words success, dedication, and passion have been instilled in Jalen and had to be put to the test in August 2022 on the last play of training camp.
On this day, going through the motions like any other day, an unfortunate set of events occurred. A gruesome right leg injury left Jalen with a torn ACL, Meniscus, damaged MCL, fractured femur, and sidelined Jalen for 9 to 11 months. On September 9th, one statement never left Jalen, his father would then say right before he went into surgery; "J, this 21st year of yours is about to be one for the books, I promise you if you keep the faith everything’s going to fall in place.” In the days and weeks that followed, Jalen experienced some of the most trying times of his life. At various points during this time, he wondered whether he would ever be the same player or person again, but that's when the faith in God and the faith instilled in him by his father came into play. Because of that faith in God, Jalen, and his team would then win the 2022 FCS Championship. All the rehab and recovery finally felt worth it.
With every dream you want to accomplish and build to come to fruition there will be obstacles that you have to overcome, in alignment with the values of 3:AM Street Apparel so is the dedication and wherewithal of Jalen's mentality. "In these times, GOD was a constant; those moments I’d walk into rehab and be ready to quit because of the pain I was in. Month by month I got stronger, and month by month, I grew more with my faith as well as my mental." Jalen said. He elaborated on how he resonates with this brand because he knows what it’s like to be so focused on your goals and dreams that it not only can keep you up at night but also keeps you away from some of the outer distractions that life brings.
When asked about his life goals, his response was; "I just want to make my family proud, but overall, I want to make God proud in everything that I do." He went on to say; "I want to rebuild my neighborhood and bring more opportunities for the youth....at the end of the day I want this place better than it was given to me." Family is the heart and soul of what motivates Jalen's goals of playing football, as well as his community, it is extremely obvious. Jalen Lee's ultimate objective is to serve as an example for those who are struggling, whether they are children, students, or athletes, by encouraging them to believe that they, too, can succeed from humble beginnings in Robbins, Illinois then there's nothing stopping me from making my dreams a reality!