Jabari Parker's Faith Is Key To His Career And Success

Jun 28, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks first round draft pick Jabari Parker throws the ceremonial first pitch before game between the Milwaukee Brewrers and the Colorado Rockies at Miller Park. - Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

But not all Mormons are happy that he didn't take a mission.

One of the things we'll all hear more about with Jabari Parker as an NBA player is his religion.

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As a devout Mormon and one of relatively few African-American Mormons, Parker will be an important figure in his church.

He's controversial among Mormons to an extent because he declined to take a mission, which all young Mormon men are expected to do.

Other Mormon athletes aren't very happy, but Parker will have other ways to be useful to the church, like being a constant presence in the media and he is also expected to make special appearances as he travels.

Given that his job requires only a few hours a day, and that he won't be going to bars and strip clubs with the other players, he should be able to do a fair amount in that capacity.

Given the relatively small numbers of African-Americans in the church you might wonder how Parker came to the church.

In this country, we tend to view people with one black parent as black. That's the case with Barack Obama, Shane Battier and Drake. Their own identities are obviously much more complex than that.

Parker's mother is Polynesian, which makes Parker not just a prominent Mormon but also the most prominent Pacific Islander in basketball. Like Yao Ming and Jeremy Lin, his ethnicity opens up new possibilities in new markets.

And while a lot of people don't realize it, the Mormon Church has had tremendous success evangelizing in the Pacific. The book of Mormon was translated into Hawaiian before the Civil War and multiple languages since. BYU-Hawaii, on Oahu, is a small school but has the highest concentration of international students of any school in the U.S.

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