In his first three years with the Nets — when he was between 19 to 21 years old — Jarrett Allen looked forward to his big annual community event, “Meals + Math,” where he would take 25 children, all of them with incarcerated parents, to Key Foods, hand them a $100 gift card and a calculator. The kids would then scatter about the store, filling their baskets while calculating what they had left on their card.
Amid a year filled with health and economic concerns, it became increasingly important for Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen to continue his yearly tradition — helping local children enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. But Allen had to get creative for his 2020 event.
This year, he and his partners at City Harvest and Children of Promise realized that wouldn’t work in COVID times. But no one considered cancelling the event. The reverse was true. They knew children with incarcerated parents likely faced more hardships this year, as USA Today’s Mark Medina reported on Thanksgiving.
“I can’t imagine not being able to see one, if not both of my parents. So for me, being able to help the kids, bring smiles to their faces and bring joy to their lives, that has brought me a lot of joy,” Allen told Medina.
“The kids are doing pretty decent. I don’t think they know all the impact of what’s been going on with the virus and the economy. So it’s still great to see that they’re enjoying life. They obviously do know that they can’t go to school, parks and restaurants and all that. But they’re moving along.”
So for his pre-Thanksgiving event last week, Allen hosted a Zoom call and worked with students on budgeting for their Thanksgiving shopping with their $100 gift cards to Key Food. The students were with Children of Promise, an after-school program and summer camp for children who have a parent who is incarcerated.
“It was definitely different and kind of a blow with not being able to be there with them,” Allen told USA TODAY Sports. “But we were still being able to interact with them and were able to see some old and new faces…
“We had to almost pretend we were at the store on the Zoom call,” Allen added. “The Children of Promise and the proctors over there handled it amazingly. They helped the kids every step of the way. It was almost like we were at the grocery store again.”
WHO IS JARRETT ALLEN
Jarrett Allen (born April 21, 1998) is an American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets for the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played college basketball for the Texas Longhorns.
Allen attended Round Rock High School in Round Rock, Texas for his freshman year of high school. He then transferred to St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas for his final three years and went on to win two SPC championships. He played in the 2016 McDonald’s All-American Boys Game. He committed to the University of Texas at Austin to play college basketball.
As a freshman at Texas, Allen averaged 13.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. However, Texas finished a disappointing 11–22. His best game was a 22-point, 19-rebound performance in a 12-point loss to Kansas. After the season, he entered the 2017 NBA draft but did not initially hire an agent before deciding to forgo his remaining three years of collegiate eligibility.
Allen was selected with the 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft by the Brooklyn Nets, and signed his rookie scale deal with the Nets on July 20. He was 19 years 182 days when he made his NBA debut on October 20, becoming the second-youngest player ever to set foot on court for the Nets, just behind Derrick Favors. He finished the game with nine points on 3-for-3 shooting, two rebounds, and one block. On January 25, 2018, Allen joined the starting lineup for the first time and recorded a career-high 16 points and 12 rebounds in a 116–108 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On February 2, in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Allen scored a career-high 20 points, as well as five rebounds and one block. On February 7, he grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds and scored 13 points in a 115–106 loss to the Detroit Pistons. On March 21, 2018, Allen recorded four blocks, which matched his career-high, as well as six rebounds, and nine points in a 111–105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. On April 5, he got a career-high five blocks in a 119–111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.