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Charles Jenkins: This is my story

Charles Jenkins, Olympiacos' new American guard, narrates his life course from New York to Piraeus for

His life philosophy is included in just a couple of sentences delivered by the American writer Jackson Brown: "Promise only the things you can do. But do more than you promised". At the sensitive age of 12, the 'reds' American guard experienced the tragic loss of his brother, Kareem Albritton and was faced with critical crossroads: Abandon everything and cause even more misery for his family or succeed and offer everyone - and his niece before everyone else - a better life. He chose the latter

The loss that branded his life

"I began playing basketball thanks to my father and brother. My father was playing basketball when in college and then with the Navy. My brother used to love basketball; he was also playing when in high school. They were the ones who made me love it!", he said talking to and continued talking about the incident that defined his life. "I was 12 years old when I lost him. He was 22 when he got murdered on November 2, 2001. From that moment on, whenever I have the chance, I wear number 22 on my jersey. I do it to honor him, but also as a reminder of how short his life had been". 

At first, he found it impossible to cope with losing his brother. "I faced a lot of problems. I wasn't interested either in school or basketball. I wasn't interested in anything  The only thing I could think about would be brother's daughter. I wanted to be with her as much as possible. I had been almost invisible for about a year, I wasn't able to concentrate and my grades deteriorated so badly that my then school had to expel me! Next summer I got sent to a public school in New York that had a really bad reputation. It was one of the worst schools in New York at the time! However, it was also the only one to take me in, since I had really fallen behind with my grades". 

From failure to model student!

The word on Springfield Garden, for which the Charles Jenkins case was its success story and that because not only he got to cover for the lost ground in a very short time, but because he also turned into a model of student - athlete! "My parents helped me to get it together. They did a terrific job and supported me with all they had. They knew how important it would be that I got an education and put me on the right track".

However, there was also something 'deeper' that pushed him to take a 180 degree turn. "When my brother died, I saw how sad my mother had been and I was causing her even more grief for failing at school. So I felt that I didn'twant to keep doing that to her. I did not want to disappoint her; neither keep 'breaking' her heart, becauseshe already had to cope with losing a son. So I told myself that I would be doing the best I could to do right by her. It had nothing to do with basketball. I wanted to do well at school, have good grades and do something positive for my family". 

A legend with a degree!

His excellent performance (on and off court) continued into college. He graduated three months early with a Degree in "Arts and Speech Communication" and became a basketball legend for the Hofstra University Pride! "I played very well in my first season and continued getting better. I would be working very hard, practicing every day, even during summer vacation. I would always be prepared and I had a very good coach that believed in me, Tom Pecora. I knew I had a chance to follow my dream. I had always wanted to be a professional basketball player, however, all this did not seem real until agents started approaching me attempting to sign me".

In April of 2011, during his last game at the Westchester Marriott, the University retired the jersey with number 22, during a special event in honor of all his accomplishments. "It was a special game and an extremely emotional one. It was my last one with the Hofstra jersey. At that time, I was thinking about all the hard work, all that I had sacrificed, all the hours at the gym, but also about all the opportunities this jersey had opened up for me. That game had been very hard for me, because I was constantly thinking that it was the last time I was playing on that court".  

All forKemoni!

Except for his parents and his sister, his 11 year old niece, Kemoni, the daughter of his tragically lost brother, got to attend the game. "She's 20 years old today; she was about 11 when I was at college. She used to live in a very tough neighborhood, where education is no priority. Lots of gangs and a high crime rate would be plaguing the place. So, I knew that should I had the opportunity to turn pro I would be able to offer her financial stability and a better life. I had always had that thought in my head, that if I was successful enough I would be able to provide for her as she was growing up". And that's what happened

Τhe short trip to theΝΒΑand Pargo's role

The time for the NBA draft had come and everyone would 'bet' that his name would be called during the first round. It was finally called in the 2nd one and more specifically, at No 44 by the Golden State Warriors. "I didn't mind much, because I had made it I played for the Warriors and it was an amazing experience. I was really happy. However, sometimes, when you are starting, you also need a little luck and that was not the case with me. I played half a season with the Warriors that were really successful, the team that had drafted me and knew me. However, due to a financial thing, they had to 'cut' some contracts. Unfortunately, one of those would be mine. I had to leave and ended up - I still don't know how - with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, I never felt comfortable there and I never played a really good game that would make them want to keep me. I had really very limited time. I would be working hard; I would stay at the gym even after practice was over, however some people can wait for a chance that never comes. And for me, it simply never came But it's also part of life". 

During his time with the 76ers though, he met a player that would open up his basketball horizons. "Jeremy Pargo is my brother! We were in Philadelphia together and unfortunately, just like me, he would not get playing time. So we would be spending a lot of time together in the bench, at practice, we would be playing one on one, we would be have long discussions because we were sharing a room  He would be always watching Maccabi Tel Aviv on his computer. He wouldn't miss a game. I know nothing about Maccabi or European basketball at the time. He helped me learn. He would talk to me about Europe, he would tell me that teams there have the best fans, about players that were playing for European Leagues and the opportunities you could be having. I got really interested. So, when I became a free agent I did not choose to go to an NBA camp and try to simply secure a spot. I wanted to play professionally, have playing time"

His safe place 

That's how he decided to take the trans-Atlantic journey in the summer of 2013 for Red Star. "It was very hard at first, because my mom has health problems and it was tough being far away from her. When I was in the States, I was only 6 hours away from home and I could be with her at any time. It was a huge change, but I had the support of my parents, who promised they would let me know about everything that would be going on. At the same time, I had a team that was giving me a real chance at playing and competing". 

After two years of impressive performances with thejersey of the Serbian team, he landed and offer from Armani Milano. Nevertheless, things did not go smoothly, despite getting to celebrate winning both the League and the Cup titles "I had gotten used to Red Star. Milano had a lot of foreigners and many big names, so I had to adjust to a different situation. I was given a different role and I didn't feel that their playing style fit me. It was a teaching experience being with a big tem, we won titles, but I did not get to play the finals". 

He decided to go back to familiar ground during the 2016-17 season for very specific reasons. "My relationship with the coach at the time, DejanRadonicweighed heavily. We had kept very good communication even through my stint with Armani. So, when I learned that Milano was not keeping me for a second season, I found it very easy to return to Red Star. The coach knew me, I had a special bond with the fans and the administration and I knew I would have the chance to have a significant role".  

His first meeting with CoachB!

His crossed paths with Coach Bartzokas for the first time during the 2017-18 season. The Greek coach offered him a spot on the Khimki roster that had made the Euroleagueplayoffs that season. Their co-operation continued into the 2018-19 season as well, however, when the Russian team decided to replace the Greek coach in January of 2019, Jenkins knew that there would be no 3rd season for him with the team. "Everything went great during season one and we made the Top 8! But then the team decided on a different course and changed the Coach. I knew I wouldn't be staying next season, although I don't think that the team would want to keep me also I had gone there due to Coach Bartzokas and he had taken a great interest in me while I was playing for him. When he left, I found it very hard to adjust to the new philosophy". 

«I know everything about Olympiacos»

He retuned to his  safe place, Red Star, once again last year. However, he seems ready to give it all with the 'reds' jersey this season. "I was really excited when the Olympiacos' offer came through. It was an offer I could not pass under any circumstances. I did not need to think about anything, neither to ask anyone to collect information. Coach Bartzokas' presence was enough for me! I know him very well from having worked together with Khimki. I'm very well aware of what he asks from me and I'm ready to cope with the role he has for me. All the more, Olympiacos is a huge team. I know everything, the history, the players! It's a team I've been following for years and I know it takes care of its players. I had always been curious about how life would be being a member of Olympiacos. I'm indeed looking forward to coming over, to work, to have the games begin I feel truly blessed to have the chance to play for such a big team. Spanoulis is one of the greats, Printezis and Papanikolaou also. Everyone knows that Spanoulis is the player in Europe, but I would be watching him for finding his role in the team, having major contribution, making some really big shots, playing an absolutely aggressive game and celebrating with passion". 

Team above «I»

Asked about his goals, both personal as well as with the team, he made clear that: "I don't have personal goals. The only thing I want is to help the team win. I have watched all the classical Euroleague games as well as the Olympiacos' ones and I want to experience something of that magnitude. I have only been once in the playoffs in my career, with Coach Bartzokas and the fact that we team up again and I know how much he wants to succeed, how much time and effort he's putting in, makes me think only about the team winning and nothing else". 

Talking about his playing style, he said: "Defense is certainly my strongest asset. I believe I'm one of the best defenders in Europe. I'm sure that I'll be called to put a stop to the best offensive player of the opposing team at every game and I have no problem whatsoever with that! I can do more things on the floor of course. I may not be doing them perfectly, but I certainly don't do them badly. I'm a well rounded player, very competitive, I always give my everything, I play pressing defense on both ends of the floor, I bring a lot of energy to the game, I protect my team mates, I'm tough and I like doing whatever it takes for my team to win".

The American guard has been at the SEF numerous times in the past as an opponent and he would be always taken by the atmosphere created by the 'reds' fans. "IhaveneverwonattheSEFThefansarefantasticThey put a lot of pressure on the opposing players, which I'm used to thanks to my seasons with Red Star. The situation is similar there and from what I know the fans of the two teams are 'brothers'. I know they are very supportive, but also demanding. They want to win and to be truthful, I wouldn't expect anything less. They devote their time to coming to the gym to watch the games and I totally respect that".

«I'm ready 100%»

When asked to send them a message, he said: "I wish to thank them for how they welcomed me. I'm not on social media, but my friends sent me photos and messages about what they were writing. I want to tell them that I'm 100% ready to come and give all I have to help the team succeed". 

Jenkins is one of the very few players that don't have even one social media account on platform! Asked about that, he replied: "I think they are a distraction. If you engage a lot with them, they take away some of the joy of life. There are people engaging with social media the whole day and time just passes by. And if there's a valuable commodity for everyone, that is time. That specific time it takes to sit with my smart phone at hand and posting photos, I can spend doing something more positive. Like reading a book, learn to cook or being outside You need to live every moment, because life is valuable. Now everyone is their phones and they are missing out on real life and its fun side. They strive to catch the moment instead of living it".