Bill Bradley once made that transition from the basketball court to the arena of politics. The former New York Knick at times had the name in his unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the United States. And seven or so months ago Jarrett Lockhart was still playing basketball over in France.
Now the former all-American out of Mount St. Michael Academy, who played for a 28-1 championship team and a one-time standout guard at the University of Pittsburgh, is in that political arena. He is the Chief of Staff for Councilwoman Maria Baez of the 14th Council district here in the Bronx, and it is as good as a transition play that Lockhart used to do on the court.
Except basketball is something that Lockhart will always have a passion for. "It's a little difficult at times but I am still learning a lot," said Lockhart last week as he wrapped up another busy day with Councilwoman. And though politics has become an unexpected part of his life now, the 29-year-old Marble Hill native constantly watches Pittsburgh on ESPN and helps the kids of his community and summer basketball camps.
Unexpected is this quick transition, but Baez saw something on his resume and gave him the chance. The two had met in the community when Baez helped fund the renovation of playground basketball courts when Lockhart came home from France.
Now he is home after playing two seasons with Denain Voltaire where he averaged about 20 points per game, an international basketball league where players get another chance to play pro ball when the NBA is not an option.
"The days never stop," says the former 6 foot 3 guard who played for Pittsburgh of the Big East under legendary coach Ben Howland from 1996-2000. "I sleep with the phone by my pillow," he dais with a smile. Welcome to the different world of fun and games, because like sports politics can be just as interesting.
He always had a basketball in his hand. Politics was the last thing Lockhart expected though with a degree in social science there was always an interest in political and social issues. Now he meets with constituents in the community, attends community board meetings and in a way is the assistant coach in the office.
Learning politics, just like Bradley did, and though Lockhart still resembles the player that knew how to handle the ball politics and a possible ambition to run for political office is a possibility. "It could happen," he commented about possibly becoming another Bill Bradley one day.
"Thre transition has been beneficial because I can relate to my experiences in basketball and with people," he says. "It's just a bigger scale" And like climbing the ladder to the professional ranks in the basketball, only a few get that opportunity, to run for political office and perhaps take on a huge responsibility..
As Lockhart watches his alma mater from his home in Parkchester, Pittsburgh striving for perfection in the Big East, there are memories and the Bronx connection. Ronald Ramon, the Bronx native continues to become a better player for the Panthers and Lockhart gets home on time to view a game or two.
"It was something always in the back of mind," he says about working in the world of government, "to see how government was run and how politics was made." And if Pittsburgh or another school called with an offer to be an assistant coach, or maybe an idea of another run on the court, Lockhart casually answers, "I like what I am doing now."
Bill Bradley once made that transition from the basketball court to the arena of politics. The former New York Knick at times had the name in his unsuccessful bid for the presidency of the United States.
Many use lables to categorize people as pursuing one main career, especially athletes. Our man Jarrett Lockhart slamdunks this notion, but not in his usual style.