Beyond His Years

by December 03, 2008

Words by Justin Walsh

Jeremy Tyler didn’t get the chance to vote in this years historic election because he’s only 16 years old. A few other things he can’t do yet? Here’s 100, just for starters.

What can Jeremy Tyler do? He can dunk, he can shoot, he can rebound, he can block…and apparently, Jeremy Tyler can have a film crew follow him around. In January, filmmakers Andrew Gallery and David Bolno decided it was the west coast’s turn to shine. East Coast had ‘Bassy, West Coast response? Jeremy Tyler. Kobe Bryant only has three-minute YouTube clips chronicling his high school basketball career. Sure, Dwight Howard had a few games featured on ESPN, but I don’t see the man beast lighting up the silver screen. That’s putting a lot of pressure on a 16-year-old. Most cats his age would foul up, fold under pressure, get star struck, but not J.T. When Jeremy sees an NBA star he figures, “They’re way better basketball players than I am right now, but they’re also just regular people.”

More than a few people say that off the court, Jeremy is mild mannered, humble and polite (he goes by Jeremy). Off the court, the hardwood becomes his potion (cue up the horror music); you will call him J.T.—a regular basketball Jekyll and Hyde. Once his size 18 kicks grace the hardwood, he will not be polite to your body. Instead he will pivot (using your weight against you), pull a quick drop step, and beat the goal like it stole somethin’.

They say art imitates life, and life imitates art. In 1994, a film crew followed two east coast guards, Arthur Agee and William Gates. People thought they were the next best thing at a young age as well. Things didn’t go so hot—neither of them got to the League. In William’s case, his knee kept his career grounded. In Arthur’s case, his father buying drugs on camera, his family struggling to stay under a roof, and the troubles of going to a rough school stunted his basketball progression. Why is this relevant? In a recent ESPN interview, Jeremy Tyler had this to say:

“You can watch that movie and learn from their actions and learn from their mistakes,” Tyler said. “What we’re doing with this [documentary] is basically the same thing. If I make it, people can learn from it, like, ‘this is what you need to do.’ If I don’t make it, they can learn from the things I did along the way.”

The maturity in that statement speaks volumes. Greg Oden looks old beyond his years; Jeremy Tyler just speaks beyond them. He’s got a game against Renardo Sidney and Fairfax HS (scheduled Jan. 23 on ESPN), a movie being filmed about him, boxes upon boxes of full offers, yet he still manages to keep grounded. Adopting a phrase from Hoop Dreams, “People are always telling me not to forget about them when I make it. And I always tell them not to forget about me if I don’t.”

Hate to break it to you Jeremy, but with your play on the court, basketball won’t forget you. This writer has a suspicion that the show has just begun. With the movie still in production, his ESPN premier a few months off and the season just beginning, this is a preview of the new Dr. Jekyll: Jeremy Tyler.