Jameel Best, Class of 2012, was accepted to numerous colleges and universities during his senior year in the inaugural graduating class of TSCS: Tuskegee University, University of Memphis, Xavier University New Orleans, Tennessee State University, Middle Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Morehouse College. After a year at Tuskegee followed by some time at Ole Miss, he then finished his degree in Exercise Science at Mississippi Valley State University (during his last semester he was playing football, taking 26 credit hours, and was president of the school’s chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity).
After graduation, Jameel had plans to attend and play basketball for the University of Memphis, but a funny thing happened on the way to the Tigers court: He stopped by his high school alma mater to say hello and ended up accepting an offer to become the new TSCS physical education teacher. Something of a fun-lovingly rebellious student during his five years at TSCS (“I was always the one talking on code red and chewing gum and not wearing by blazer,” he laughs), Jameel looked forward to coming back to coach and mentor students that were in the same spot has he had been back in his days as a middle and high schooler.
In a December 2016 interview Jameel said, “When Middle School Leader Thomas Upchurch offered me the opportunity to come back here and teach, all of those memories about Soulsville came back and I thought how great it would it be to be back here, but as a teacher, and be an example showing that this isn’t just some dream the teachers are selling to the students. I come from the same background as the students. I come from the same kind of household and the same ethnic background. So I thought it would be a good way to be an example of what the dream really is that the teachers are teaching here.”
After a year of teaching and mentoring at TSCS while also operating his own personal fitness facility in downtown Memphis, Jameel decided to spread his wings and left to go on a journey to further explore his identity. He found himself traveling around the world and playing professional basketball for the minor league Central Basketball Association (CBA). In 2018 he was named as the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Upon giving him the award, the CBA wrote of Jameel, “The 6-foot-9 center certainly did not disappoint in his first full season of playing basketball, as he not only frustrated his opponents in attempting to defend against his large frame, but he also carried the Memphis Rail Runners to their first winning season in team history.”
After his time racking up awards with the CBA, Jameel traveled abroad again and played professional basketball in Izalco, El Salvador for a while, but soon returned to Memphis to pursue yet another endeavor.
Today, Jameel is a Deputy Sheriff with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. True to his penchant for always trying to achieve the most success possible in any situation, Jameel graduated from the six-month training program winning awards for Best Physical Training and Best Overall Recruit.
Congratulations, Jameel. You are the Best!