A humble champion returned home to be celebrated on Friday night.
Jefferson City honored “one of its greatest athletes,” OG Anunoby, by retiring his number five at halftime in their match against Rock Bridge.
Anunoby stole the show, but not on her own initiative. Before stepping onto the pitch to be recognized, Anunoby stood discreetly in a corner of the sideline, casually dressed in all black. While he willingly signed autographs for the enthusiastic little kids who found him, he seemed more comfortable laughing and chatting with his former teachers and supporters.
The humility and grace shown by Anunoby did not surprise those who knew him and followed his career.
Garrett Parker, an old schoolmate of Anunoby in high school, pointed out Anunoby’s “nonchalant and kind” attitude.
“He’s a really good guy.”
On the court, Anunoby emerged as an impressive offensive threat in his freshman year of high school. He was averaging 21.3 points, but his season was cut short due to a wrist injury. As a senior, he averaged 19.1 points.
“He just blew me away,” said Parker, recalling the first time he had to face Anunoby in defense. “He’s just crazy.”
After graduating from Jefferson City in 2015, Anunoby played in Indiana for two seasons before being drafted by the Toronto Raptors in 2017. Anunoby has spent his entire career in Toronto and was a member of the team. of the 2019 NBA Raptors Championship. Most recently, the 2020-2021 season cemented him as a multi-talented goalie, averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game.
In addition to removing her jersey, Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said Friday to be “OG Anunoby Day”.
“We are very proud of him,” Tergin said affectionately. “We appreciate his career, but above all we appreciate him as a person.”
By honoring Anunoby’s athletic and personal excellence, Jefferson City athletic director Ehren Earleywine hopes to inspire the young Jays.
“He’s a role model. I hope little kids will use him as an example of how maybe they should try to live their lives.”