It always has been about the mission for Jamal Cain.
“My father was in his life a lot before he passed away, and he always told him if basketball was important to him, there was a mission he had to complete,” said Amanda Branner, Cain’s mother. “He instilled that in him until the day he passed away and then (Cain’s) father picked up where my father left off.”
Shellie Branner, Cain’s grandfather, was the one who first sent Cain to a basketball camp when he was in early elementary school. He was the one who first signed him up for an organized team in the fifth grade.
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He preached about the mission to the youngster until his death in July 2013. Then Cain’s father, Hasen, carried on the talk of the mission – even if he didn’t know much basketball.
“He didn’t know anything about basketball,” Jamal Cain said, laughing. “He’d say something, and I’d be like: ‘What are you talking about?’ He was a basketball fan because I played basketball. He really had no choice but to pay attention to basketball.”
But that ended in July when Hasen died – and suddenly Cain’s mission seemed more like Mission Impossible.
Cain is a 6-foot-8 senior at Detroit Cornerstone Health and Technology, a charter school located in what used to be St. Scholastica Elementary School on West Outer Drive. Last month, he signed a national letter of intent with Marquette and is the No. 2 player in the Free Press’ Top 100 players in the state.
He began the season with a bang Tuesday night, scoring 25 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in a 64-59 loss to a good Wayne Memorial team.
But for a time this summer after his father died, Cain forgot about his mission.
“It was hard for at least awhile, but then I realized I just had to get back to what the mission was,” Cain said. “He told me to keep working and don’t let anything keep you back.”