"I want to be the ultimate professional and inspire kids, while creating resources for young athletes, especially those with financial barriers.."-Jasman Sangha
Discipline. Passion. Family. These are the pillars that support Jasman Sangha’s basketball career as part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I team at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Be it his reputed three-point shooting ability on the basketball court or academic perseverance, Sangha’s talents and hard work are unparalleled.
Born in Surrey, British Columbia, Sangha moved to Brampton, Ontario, as a toddler. Though he always enjoyed playing sports on the street, he did not venture out into organized sports until middle school. Even then, basketball was not really in the mix as he was more interested in other sports. The star sportsman played street basketball with his friends during leisure time, but it wasn’t until Grade 9 that he joined his high school’s basketball team, where his natural talent for the sport surfaced. Through his teenage years, Sangha had the support of great mentors. At this point, without much practice, Sangha was averaging about 5 points a game.
Towards the later years of high school, Sangha decided to laser focus on his physical fitness and practicing regime. At 6:00 am each morning, Sangha would hit the gym for an intense workout and arrive at the basketball courts to practice. Soon, Sangha was averaging 24 points a game. He details, “My parents worked 14-hour shifts to support the family, so I didn’t have car rides. That summer, I’d walk back home for an hour after workouts. I was in love with getting better and competing.”
As time went on, Sangha’s parents began bringing up the oh-so-dreaded career talk in Grade 12. His brother, a top student, was attending a prestigious university, whereas Sangha struggled academically and did not have competitive grades. Sangha’s older brother stepped in and reasoned with their parents to support their son in exploring professional basketball. Eventually, Sangha’s parents began investing in him, pushing their child to give the sport of basketball his all. Sangha shares, “I remember my dad asking me who the best player in the NBA is and I think I named Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. He said you’ve got to be better than them.”
Excelling in sports, Sangha finished high school in Canada. Canadian universities wanted to recruit Sangha, but his heart was set on moving to the United States of America (USA). During a visit across the border to a local school, Sangha was spotted by a coach, who had trained the likes of Zion Williamson and Jaylen Brown. The coach offered to train Sangha all summer and open doors of opportunities. When Sangha got back to Canada, his parents were not on board; they wanted Sangha to accept a local Canadian scholarship offer. Of course, there were inhibitions about trusting a man that Sangha had only just met. His brother vouched for him yet again and even paid for Sangha’s flight, encouraging him to work hard and follow his dreams.
Sangha describes that it wasn’t all a smooth ride, “I had all these scholarship offers, but my coach told me that none of these schools would be able to take me since my grades were so low. Taking an alternative route, I then had to graduate from junior college first. Looking back, I realized I was way too focused on sports and friends in high school. I didn’t really balance things. I underwent a harsh reality check, but tried my best to turn things around.”
During his time in the USA, Sangha went through rigorous training. Moreover, Sangha was also putting in the work for prep school. As time went on, Sangha landed at Florida’s Pensacola State Junior College, where he was excelling athletically. However, Sangha received some bad news amidst his basketball season; his grandmother had stage four lung cancer and not long to live. When he heard the news, Sangha traveled back home to be with his grandma in her last days. After losing her, Sangha did return to his college, but his athletic performance declined, which led to him losing his starting spot. Soon after, COVID-19 shut down the world, giving Sangha the space to grieve and the time to renew his energy. After what he calls the toughest year of his life, Sangha emerged with a refreshed focus.
For his final year in junior college, Sangha transferred to Garden City Community College in Kansas, where he bounced back so impressively that he received more than a dozen Division I offers. Sangha signed a full-ride scholarship to attend Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. This time, grades were not a barrier. In fact, Sangha is currently finishing his semester with a 4.00 GPA.
Today, Sangha is thankful that he is able to relieve financial burden off of his parents and also live out his grandma’s dream. When it comes to other South Asian youth who may be interested in pursuing professional sports, he reminds students to work hard and get the best possible grades, even if sports is what they are interested in career-wise. As for the parents, Sangha encourages them to allow their children to do what they truly want.
Looking into the future, Sangha dreams of playing basketball professionally, specifically with the Raptors in the National Basketball Association (NBA), “I want to be the ultimate professional and inspire kids, while creating resources for young athletes, especially those with financial barriers.” Sangha’s key to success, as cliché as it may be, has always been the notion that hard work beats anything, which was instilled in him by his parents from a young age. Evidently, the proof is in the pudding with the prodigy’s noteworthy accomplishments and extraordinary athletic performance. Embodying robust resilience and endless devotion, both on and off the court, Sangha is surely well on his way to greatness, achieving nothing but net through his journey.