Juriad Hughes Sr. was officiating a summer league basketball game at Concordia University last month when he spotted a columnist of a local newspaper taking in the action as a mere spectator. “We need to get together and do that interview,” he said in between plays. “When can we do it?”
One might think that Hughes, the former St. Paul Central hoops star who earned Metro Player of the Year, was a Mr. Basketball finalist as a senior in 1989, and went on to star collegiately at New Mexico State University and South Dakota State University, might be referring himself as the focus of the story.
This however was not the case.
Hughes, a 6’-1” guard who torched opponents with his athleticism and outside shooting while at Central, was talking about his son, nine-year-old Juriad Hughes Jr.
“He’s been having a real good season,” Juriad Hughes Sr. said with pride. Plans were made to meet at the University of St. Thomas, where Juriad Hughes junior was competing.
Oh! One more thing!
The younger Hughes was not participating in a basketball tournament like his father would have at his age. He was at the USA Track and Field (USATF) State Championship participating as a sprinter while establishing himself as one of the top track and field athletes in the nation for his age group (nine-10-year-olds).
He broke a 17-year-old record in 100 meters with a time of 13.47 (shattering a personal best of 13.53) and placed first in the 200 (28.74) and 400 (1:10.80).
He was named the USATF Minnesota Athlete of the Year in 2013 and 2014.
Of the 36 medals Juriad Hughes Jr. has earned during his brief career, 34 were gold.
In a day and time in which fathers want their sons to follow in their athletic footsteps, the elder Hughes seems cool with the path his son is taking.
“Basketball was my love,” he said. “But I wanted my son to try other sports besides basketball. Track and field seems to be what he is good at. He likes it and he’s having fun.”
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.