He was just a skinny, tall, kid from Tiger Town Belmopan, who used to endure ridicule for dreaming of becoming a professional basketball player. Fast forward to 20 years later and Jarrell Velasquez, 29, is now living more than his dream but is blazing a trail for those like himself.
Jarrell Velasquez signs acting contract with Colgate Representatives
Velasquez is now not only a professional basketball player, but is also a professional basketball trainer, model, actor, businessman, and activist who just finished signing commercial contracts with big companies in Mexico and the US such as Colgate, Gatorade, and even the NBA.
In an interview with the Reporter Velasquez commented, “Dream big; it cost absolutely nothing, it is free. As long as you see yourself being successful in whatever it is that you want and if you work hard and smart, anything is attainable. I feel like I am living proof of that because I was not supposed to be where I am right now. There is no way that a skinny, black kid from Tiger Town should be on the stage doing NBA commercials or playing and coaching … NBA players, traveling the world, but it happened because I dreamt big.”
Velasquez’s dream started to take shape when he was just 15-years old when he played in his first official match in High School. Velasquez said that he remembered losing the game but was thrilled by the attention and energy that he got from spectators, that he made a vow to dedicate his life to become a professional basketball player. Three years later Velasquez attended the University of Belize, where he again played for the school. His skills, however, captured the attention of Galen University who offered him their first athletic scholarship. Velasquez said that he took the offer because it was a big deal for his mother who no longer had to find the money to pay his tuition. While at Galen, Velasquez was presented with the opportunity to play professional matches in both Guatemala and Mexico. Vasquez said that after classes he would board a flight and fly out of the country and fly back in the following day to attend classes but then his grades started to fall and his coach encouraged him to quit basketball for a while so he could focus on his schoolwork.
After completing his degree in Marketing at Galen University, Velasquez then took up a job with a company named 5 Star Sports as a professional basketball trainer. It so happens that the company also had a partnership with Nike and the NBA athletes who had signed with Nike would travel to China in the summer to train with the company. Vasquez said that there was where he had the opportunity to work with big basketball players such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant.
While in China, Velasquez said that his career finally started to take shape, because this is when he connected with a modeling agency that told him that they “like his look” and that they could get him jobs in the modeling and acting field.
Velasquez, who has been in China for four years, was also there when the pandemic hit last year. “There were no more opportunities to play, no more opportunities to model, and no more opportunities to work basically and so I had to come home and leave everything behind, my apartment, my life, my career, the people who meant a lot to me,” said Velasquez.
Before he knew it Velasquez was back in Belize, reunited with his family and friends. He started playing basketball in the Belize Basketball League which was still open at the time. But what had only been a virus when he left China became a worldwide pandemic, leading to the closure of airports across the world including Belize. Velasquez said that because he thought that the lockdown would have only been a couple of months it took a mental toll on him when he had to be locked up inside for months while international travel was restricted.
That is when Velasquez decided to do something constructive with his time and launch his brand Just Be Victorious (JBV) which included an assortment of T-shirts, shorts, hats, socks, underwear, body bands, yoga mats, and massage guns. Velasquez said that his clothing line took off and became a big hit because at that time gyms were closed but people still needed to work out.
When the airport reopened, Velasquez left the country for Tennessee where he is presently residing and traveling back and forth to train NBA players and book gigs with the various modeling companies he has signed with
“I have a lot going on right now but it is all truly a blessing that I do not take for granted because I was faced with all of these adversities last year, sitting at home for 8 months, unable to work, and losing everything in the process. I had to build it back up because nothing was handed to me, it wasn’t easy, but like I have always said, the same pressure that burst pipe also makes diamond.”
Velasquez told the Reporter that while growing up he never had anybody that he could use as a role model and so now he is blazing a trail for the next generation of professional Belizean basketball players to follow. He said that coupled with his unparallel work ethic, his faith in God, and the connections that he has forged over the years, helped him to get where he is today and so he is urging others like himself to follow in his footsteps and use his recipe for success.