From crib to the NBA, Ty Jerome has been a basketball player since birth

By Jerry Ratcliffe


It was destined from birth that Ty Jerome was going to be a basketball player.

His father, Mark, and mother, Melanie, both played college basketball. Mark was a high school and AAU basketball coach. While that doesn’t necessarily mean their child would become a hoopster, the way he was raised perhaps did.

“His mom and I brought him home from the hospital [after Ty was born] and a regular-sized basketball was [already placed] in his crib,” Mark Jerome said during a recent appearance on ESPN-Charlottesville’s “Jerry Ratcliffe Show.” Readers can listen to the entire interview by clicking on this link.

“[Ty] did not have a choice (but to play basketball),” Mark Jerome chuckled. “He was literally dribbling two basketballs down the street as he learned how to walk. He was two and three years old dribbling two balls down the streets of New York City.”

Mark Jerome was friends with some people that worked at Madison Square Garden, so it wasn’t unusual to see a very young Ty Jerome out on the fabled court of basketball’s mecca.

“He was in heaven [at MSG],” Mark Jerome said.

Any time the Jeromes would take the basketball away from their son, he would start crying.

“Those were his temper tantrums,” Ty’s dad said.

Of course, Jerome grew up to be an outstanding high school player, went on to play for Tony Bennett at Virginia for three years and was part of the Cavaliers’ national championship team. He’s now a member of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

“I tell people that sometimes I think the ACS (NYC Administration for Children’s Services) should have brought me up on charges,” Mark Jerome chuckled. “There were times Ty would play five or six ball games in a weekend. There are five burroughs of New York City and there were times we were playing in four burroughs, minus Staten Island, in one day. His weekends were a little unique for a five-year-old.”


Jerome said that he would drive his team of five or six kids to the games, and that Ty was usually one of, if not the youngest at age 5 or 6, and would always “play up” against older kids.

“He would get out of our car seat and play against some big boys (age 7, 8 or 9), then get back in his car seat and we’d drive to the next game,” Mark Jerome said. “New York City tournaments were tough and really competitive.

“We would travel with five or six players, so it wasn’t like we had 10 guys that allowed our guys to play only half the game. There was very little rest. Most of the games were outside in the summer, so it was hot, and the courts were long for a 5- and 6-year-old. Tons of screaming … the crowds were incredibly intense. Some of the games were packed for 5-to 7-year-olds.”

Again, for the entire interview, click on the link above to learn more about Ty Jerome’s entire basketball career — from Rucker Park to the NBA.


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