ARKANSAS SPORTS HALL OF FAME: ‘Journey’ worth leaving behind

Nichole S. Gehr

Jesse Mason is doing the job on a documentary. It is about himself.

The previous Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Standard School (now College of Arkansas-Pine Bluff) basketball star is out to chronicle his life, from a childhood in Marion to several years in Pine Bluff to a submit-participating in job that has integrated do the job in community assistance, schooling and a friendship with a U.S. president.

Mason’s eyesight for “The Superb Journey” is not only to document his very first 81 a long time on earth, but also to give a highway map for these who will occur right after him.

“I think youthful people would do well to see the story of a young boy from jap Arkansas who remaining Crittenden County and went all the way to wherever he is now and what he completed alongside the way,” Mason claimed. “My daily life story can exhibit them there is a way.”

The hottest prevent on Mason’s journey is the Arkansas Athletics Hall of Fame, to which the Golden Lions’ third all-time top scorer will be inducted Friday.

Mason lettered in all 4 many years he spent at Arkansas AM&N from 1956-60 and obtained All-Southwestern Athletic Meeting honors in every of his ultimate a few seasons.

In 2016, UAPB retired his No. 42 jersey in the rafters of the arena named just after his previous mentor, H.O. Clemmons.

Mason’s article-actively playing occupation has been as prolific, showcasing ventures into academia, public assistance, coaching and consulting. As commissioner of the Monthly bill and Hillary Clinton Countrywide Airport, Mason solid a connection with President Bill Clinton. The two share an Aug. 19 birthday, and Mason generally reminds him that he was Pine Bluff’s No. 42 prolonged in advance of Clinton became the White House’s No. 42.

“To be inducted usually means a excellent deal to me,” Mason said. “I am grateful. Honored. Touched. I know I’m next in the footsteps of a large amount of terrific athletes.”

Born in Millington, Tenn., and lifted in Marion, it was in nearby Memphis that Mason’s really like for sports ignited.

He was 8 a long time old when his father — Jesse W. Mason Sr. — took him to see Jackie Robinson participate in with a group of all-stars barnstorming through the South. The racist slurs and objects thrown at the long run Hall of Fame next baseman remaining Mason dismayed, but it was Robinson’s composed demeanor in the deal with of taunts that trapped with him — and Mason wished to emulate it. He later wore Robinson’s No. 42 in large school and university.

“When I remaining that activity, I explained, ‘Daddy, I want to be like Jackie Robinson,”https://www.arkansasonline.com/information/2021/apr/14/journey-worth-leaving-driving/” Mason explained. “He informed me you are likely to have to get the job done challenging.”

Without baseball thoroughly offered to him in Marion, Mason took to basketball.

“I listened to Jackie was a superior basketball player, as well,” he stated.

He honed his match as a capturing guard at Woodstock Large School, a boarding university in Tennessee, which include dropping 50 factors in a get around Burt Higher University in 1955.

Mason made as a college student at Woodstock, also, in which the 2.5 GPA needed to continue being on the varsity crew wasn’t superior plenty of for his parents. They set the bar at a 3. for him to continue being on the group, and Mason’s desire to keep on the court drove him in the classroom.

His GPA under no circumstances dipped beneath a 3. in significant college or college or university.

“It confirmed me that in get to be productive, you might be going to have to do some points that you might not like,” Mason said. “You’re heading to have to do some things that may possibly not be fun. But at the finish, it is really heading to pay off.”

Mason arrived to Pine Bluff in 1956, wherever his scoring contact stored the Golden Lions aggressive with perennial winners these types of as Texas Southern and Tennessee State above the study course of his college or university job. He attained the SWAC scoring title in his senior year with 25.2 points for every sport, and he was inducted into the UAPB Corridor of Fame in 2010 before achieving the SWAC Corridor of Fame one yr afterwards.

It is really been 60-furthermore many years due to the fact his enjoying occupation finished, and Mason because has served as Small Rock’s vice mayor and launched a consulting company. He is worked at the University of Arkansas at Minor Rock, far too, and that just scratches the surface.

At each and every cease, he credited basketball and mentors this kind of as Clemmons for the discipline that has fueled his skilled lifetime.

“It is really the foundation for the achievement I’ve experienced in lifetime,” Mason explained.

It is really a journey he’s now formatting to a documentary. The film is in the early stages, and he is not guaranteed when it will be accomplished, but his vision is obvious. His tale — down to Saturday’s induction — is one particular of results, and he desires to depart it behind.

“Some kid in Arkansas may possibly say that they aspire to be in the Arkansas Sports Corridor of Recreation,” Mason said. “How can they do that? The place do they commence? Nicely, you can check out Mason’s documentary. It will give them some strategy of how he did it.”

More Information

The seventh in a series profiling inductees into the Arkansas Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2021. The induction ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at the Statehouse Conference Middle in Very little Rock.

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