"Black History means being bold" – Jalon Pipkins
If you’re talking pillars for Black British culture, basketball must be in the conversation. I think it’s fair to say that the British Basketball League wasn’t well respected until the recent seasons; now it’s gaining momentum and turning into one of the most watched sports. It only seemed right that we found an opportunity to sit down with one of the league’s rising stars. In an exclusive interview, we ask Jalon Pipkins what Black History means to him, his influences, and any advice he’d give to his younger self.
Read on for the full interview.
This is your first year playing in the league, and first time in England. Could you briefly give us an insight into your story Jalon.
Yeah, so I’m Jalon Pipkins, 25 years old, number 5 at Sheffield Sharks. I started playing basketball in Paris, Texas. Outside of Dallas Texas, nobody really knows where that is, so I usually just say Dallas Texas.
I grew up in a country small town and started playing basketball when I was six years old. My dad said he knew I loved basketball and that I was going to choose basketball because he found me in a grocery store, you know, dribbling a basketball at like 3 or 4 years old. He was just like yea he’s going to play basketball.
So fast forward to high school I was a really good player I got some really good looks, but I decided to go to Cal State, Northridge out of high school for my freshman year of college. From there I transferred to junior college, Paris Junior College in my hometown. From there I went to Loyola Chicago, which was in Chicago Illinois. I had a good season there but didn’t finish there.
I finished my college career in Purdue Fort Wayne University, Indiana. That’s where I got my bachelor’s degree. Then fast forward to here out of college I went to Finland, however mid-way through the season things didn’t work out and I transferred to Sheffield Sharks so that’s kind of how I found my way to Sheffield.
I guess our next question would be, how are you finding it here and what exactly do you love about the culture?
It was easy to transition because I tell everybody it reminds me of Paris, Texas because it’s kind of like a small town outside the big town. It’s not too loud, it’s not too quiet because like I said it's outside the bigger cities so it’s just like home. The only thing I can say is, the weather here is a little different from where I’m from but other than that I love it here. Playing basketball here has just been lovely too.
I’ve always been in tune with the British culture, how they move down here, talk so I kinda knew a little bit but once I got down here it definitely opened my eyes to the fashion, the people, how they wear their stuff and how not afraid they are to wear certain fits. It’s kind of given me a couple ideas of what I can add to my attire and my closet, you know what I mean. I love being influenced by the UK.
Ya’ll got your own culture, I love it. I’m a fashion guy I love to see it.
Ahh we love to hear it, who do you think your biggest Black fashion influences are?
For me my biggest influences on my fashion are Lil Yachty, Joey Badass, Pharrell… dudes who are not afraid to go outside the box. I think those are the top three that I can see myself wearing the same thing that they're wearing. For instance, the style I had on today, I had on Timberland boots, big jeans, shirt & tie inspired by Joey Badass. I think he always keeps it classy and he will mix studious and being classy with a little bit of edginess to it, that makes me like what he wears.
Yeah Joey Badass be putting it on. So outside of basketball and fashion, who’s your biggest inspiration to your everyday life?
I think the person that has influenced me the most and inspired me the most has always been my Dad. He’s challenged me, he’s never kept me complacent with some of the things I do or if I don’t meet the standard, I want to meet for myself he always encourages me to keep going. Don’t ever change the standard I have for myself and keep it there.
With it being Black History month, we’d love to take a second to know what exactly this means to you?
Black history means to me is just being bold. Not always celebrating the things we had to overcome but celebrating the things we been doing. Celebrating what African Americans have created, they’ve invented so many things that we could celebrate today and focus on that. I think Black History Month give us chance to really look into that, celebrate ourselves and the people that’s involved in Black History Month.
If you could tell your younger self one thing as a Black man, what would it be?
It would be, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I think in today’s time people make jokes about not having, not knowing. You can always ask for help then just apply it but I would say first and foremost ask for help, seek the help and learn.
Lastly, for our sake everyone always has an Avirex story. With Avirex originating in the states and now flourishing in the UK and you mentioning that fashion is a passion of yours… What exactly do you love about the brand?
Just the vintageness, I don’t even know if that’s a word but I love how vintage they are. I feel like anything that Avirex can put out it can complement anything I have in my closet. I like the exclusiveness they bring to what they put out.
I wasn’t around when Avirex first dropped, but I always been around the OGs that have told me all about it. How they used to starve at home just to buy one.
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