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Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:56 am
Daughter of murdered brother drives Charles Jenkins
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/more_spo ... OVEZeuP8CL
Of the 60 players expected to be taken in Thursday's NBA Draft, some will buy high-priced cars, others flashy jewelry wth their first professional contacts. Charles Jenkins' first expenditure will be a little different: Put away money to send his 11-year-old niece, Kemoni Albritton, to college one day.
"I'm going to make sure she has the same ability to go to college just as I did," said the Queens native and Hofstra graduate projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second round.
"That's typical Charles," said Fordham coach Tom Pecora, who recruited Jenkins to Hofstra and coached him for three years. "He's saying, 'How can I help my parents? How can I help my niece?' That's rare for a 22-year-old person to think that way."
Albritton has been a source of motivation for Jenkins for several years. She's the last connection Jenkins has to his brother and her father, Kareem Albritton, who was murdered at the age of 22 -- the number he has always worn -- in 2001.
"The way they look and the way they act, you can see it -- they're the same," said the 6-foot-3 Jenkins, Hofstra's all-time leading scorer with 2,513 points. "For her to have such a big part in my life, it means a lot."
The two spend plenty of time together. She has been to several games at Hofstra and Jenkins, 22, took her as his personal guest to the Met Basketball Writers Association dinner in Tarrytown when he became only the third player to win three straight Haggerty Awards, given to the top college basketball player in the New York metropolitan area.
"When he can, he's always there to support her," said Christine Ballinger, Kemoni's mother. "Even though her father isn't here, she still has a father figure."
Ballinger said Jenkins has been able to strike a happy medium between being her daughter's friend and being an authoritative presence. Jenkins makes sure Kemoni does well academically, promising gifts in return. To see Jenkins excelling in college, in class and on the court motivates her.
"He's a great role model for her," Ballinger said.
Jenkins, in turn, derives plenty of joy from having Kemoni in his life. Now that she has a cell phone, the two speak often. As the draft ap proaches, he's admittedly nervous, not sure when he will be taken.
She made him smile on Monday by innocently asking what team would take him
“Looking at her makes Charles think of him,” Hofstra teammates Nat Lester said.
Jenkins has spent much of his career under the radar, first at Springfield Gardens, then with the Student Athlete Broncos on the AAU circuit, and then with Hofstra. He bypassed bigger sneaker-funded AAU programs to play with the Broncos and turned down bigger conferences to play at Hofstra.
Lester said Jenkins often reveled in facing elite, name opponents.
"We played Tyreke Evans (now with the Kings) and Charles held his own," Lester said.
When Jenkins met with the 12 NBA teams he's worked out for, he shared those experiences.
"I got where I am just from hard work," he told the teams, which included the Knicks, Bulls and NBA champion Mavericks. "I just played the hand I was dealt."
That's true off the court as well, where he has used tragedy as inspiration. Jenkins said no matter what happens Thursday night, Kemoni Albritton will be taken care of.
"Charles has this innate sense to do what's right," said his father, Charles Jenkins Sr.
I have two NBA teams: The Golden State Warriors and whoever faces off against the Los Angeles Lakers because I'm a 100% Warrior fan and a 100% Laker Hater