Settling in at Shaw University

Jabari Corbett, Jr.’s road to Shaw University was not a smooth one, but he traveled it with his loving family and a reassuring support system.

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — By all accounts, Jabari Corbett, Jr. is a well-deserving young man who is incredibly obedient to his parents and has an impressive work ethic. He is a well-disciplined young man who comes from a supportive family. If anyone is deserving of good things, it would be him.

This summer, he focused on shifting from high school to being a collegiate student-athlete. He spent his days working at Dick’s Sporting Goods and his evenings working out in the weight room and on the practice field.

“I needed to get in college football shape and keep my body healthy, so I am ready when it is time to report to camp,” said Jabari.

He is attending Shaw University on a football scholarship. Shaw is a private Baptist HBCU in Raleigh, N.C. It’s affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA and was founded on Dec. 1, 1865, which makes it the oldest HBCU to begin offering courses in the southern United States.

For a period, there was uncertainty about where he would spend his next four years. Jabari experienced an injury setback in his 11th-grade year at Gibbs High School that may have slowed his recruitment. He recalls the agony of being unable to play the game he loved because his body was not healed from the injury.

He was an exceptional player in high school and desired to demonstrate his skills to colleges.

“He is so talented and deserves so much,” said Gibbs defensive coach Jay Jones. “Proud of what he brings to a team. I told him to keep working, and God will bless him. I appreciate the family for not giving up.”

Jabari is a well-grounded young man; his family support is key to his success. Jabari’s father, Jabari Corbett Sr., a city commercial sanitation worker, is close with his son. He often tells Jabari to keep God first and read his Bible.

Wanda Wilson-Corbett, Jabari’s mother, was his senior class sponsor, and his little brother, Jaquan, expressed how proud he is of his big brother and having him as a role model. He wants to follow in Jabari’s college-playing footsteps one day.

Jabari’s parents, grandparents, aunts, and siblings saw him off to Shaw University. It was an experience to remember, but before he left, Jabari went to his pastor to reaffirm his faith in God, and Pastor Lannis Thomas, Jr. baptized him at his request.

“I am extremely proud of him,” said Wilson-Corbett as she broke down in tears, overcome by emotion while recalling Jabari’s injuries. “He worked hard. Football was everything to him, and seeing this day come is a testament to God. My faith was tested. I saw a child who tried to do everything possible, and it seemed like nothing was happening. Do not ever give up on yourself. God will bless you!”

Since arriving at Shaw University, Jabari has encountered a busy schedule. He attends football meetings, where he is learning how to be a college athlete and understanding the schemes and language of Shaw athletics.

He then goes to his biology class, where lectures and assignments come rapidly. Jabari credits being in advanced courses in high school for preparing him for the college workload. He also has football practice, where he competes with his teammates for a starting position and an opportunity for extended playing time. 

“I am so proud of my brother! He has worked so hard and is very dedicated to football,” said Saniyah Corbett, a younger sister. “Ever since he started, he has been working on himself nonstop despite the setback he had in his 11th-grade year. I wish for him to have a great college career and a professional football career too. I love you forever and always!”

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