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St. Ambrose Football Star Explains It’s Never Too Late To Persevere

Above: The SAU football team huddles before a game. Photo courtesy of Sydnee Horstman.

Sometimes in life things don’t always go as planned- there are days full of many successes and
failures.“ Although the most important part of failing isn’t falling, it’s just the way you get up, if
you choose to”, says Jamari. The persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in
achieving success defines the meaning of perseverance, and that’s just one way to describe
St. Ambrose University football linemen, Jamari Wise.

The 24-year-old student athlete from Chicago Illinois says he has truly taken pride in his journey
as he hopes his story inspires those who can learn from his mistakes as well as all of his
successes. Jamari fell in love with football at eight years old. It meant everything to him and was
even an escape to get away from Chicago’s trials and tribulations.

“Chicago is a beautiful place. It really is but it is also a very dangerous and violent place to be in
where you have to be focused and stay out of the way.” Jamari grew up around a lot of gang
violence to the point where there were more murders than people living in the area of Mayfield

“That was my biggest thing, focusing on football and school and taking care of my family. I took
a lot of responsibility for taking care of my mom because she was a single parent raising six kids
on her own, all by herself so I always felt like it was my duty to make sure she wasn’t alone.”

Jamari was separated from his father at the age of 11 years old. This gave Jamari the opportunity
to grow up way faster than he ever thought he would.

As Jamari would go on to college to pursue his football career, he learned that if you don’t take
care of your academics, the sport you play means nothing. Jamari learned that even though he’d
been to a couple schools, his dream was still a close reality.

“I went to two colleges before I found St. Ambrose, which was a division three school called
Elmhurst University which I did terribly in so I ended up having to go the Juco route at the
college of Dupage.”

Jamari learned that when it was time to leave out his Juco, he wanted to play in a welcoming
program that genuinely cared about him and that’s when St. Ambrose would come into play.

Jamari would face the mental challenges of being one foot in, in his sport while the other foot
was being dragged behind from the care of his family. “Taking care of my family is almost all I
live for, my moms especially I would do anything for my people.”

The opportunity would arise for Jamari to compete at St. Ambrose University while still pursuing
his academic career.

Even though Wise was getting rewarded for his outstanding football scholarship, he still would
feel selfish because he knew the struggle was still occurring for his family members back home that unfortunately couldn’t go to college with him.

“I just knew that my family was still stuck living in Chicago where it could be seen as unsafe, I just wanted to know they were protected.”

Music lightens the heavy burden of his found in the symphonies of Marvin Gaye, Sauce Walka,
The Isley brothers, Rio,and slow R&B. Music plays a big role in Jamari’s life to this day.

“A lot of the artists I listen to or even then when I was younger, it was because they’d speak on
pain, mental challenges, and other things I went through or were still being challenged by.”

“I started my collegiate football career in 2017, so to have done all of the moving around I did
and still be here is a blessing and something that I am forever grateful for.”

Jamari’s advice to anyone chasing something they believe in is to never give up and always keep
fighting for it, despite their current circumstances and to remember that time goes by fast and
once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.

This year, in 2024, Jamari will officially be the first person in his family to graduate college and
with his story, he won’t be the last.

Jayven Jones is a staff writer for The Buzz.