For an 8th-grader, James Graham III seems to have a pretty good handle on the pressures of a budding young athlete.
Graham has a full plate balancing school and life. The Grimmer Middle Schooler plays both football and basketball and when he isn't at school, he is at practice. He plans to attend Lake Central High School next fall, and while there isn't a lot of free time in his life, Graham is up for the challenge.
“I feel like I can hold off being overwhelmed very well,” Graham said.“I feel like I am always ready to take on life, I don't think I could adjust to a more relaxing lifestyle.”
Sports have always been a big and natural part of Graham's life. He has been playing both sports for 10 years or more. The gap between the sports gives him a short break to reset for success, and it’s clear that all of his hard work has paid off. Both his football and basketball teams have won their conference championships for the last two years. Graham does his best to be humble, but he does like to take the chance to show off a little bit.
“It has been a fun experience, and serves as great bragging rights to my friends,” Graham said. “When you are surrounded by people trying to achieve the same things, it makes everything so simple.”
Graham likes to credit his success and work ethic to his father. When he was younger, both of them could be found in the driveway shooting hoops. Even now, his dad is still helping him improve by videotaping all of his games. Throughout their interactions, his dad has taught him some valuable lessons.
“Always do your best and outwork everyone,” Graham said. “No matter what anyone says, keep in mind that you are getting better.”
Of course, when there isn't practice, Graham is either at school or doing his homework. His busy life has not disrupted his schoolwork at all, as he boasts a 3.6 grade point average. Graham even won a geography contest as well, and has succeeded in making his parents proud.
“Everything seems to come so naturally to him, it is amazing,” said Charlotte Graham, James’ mom. “He has a great work ethic at everything he does, I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Any spare time he does have is filled with the things a typical teenager would want to do. He likes to hang out with his friends and play games. When Graham gets the chance though, he volunteers at his former preschool. He goes around to classes helping kids with reading, math, or any other projects.
“I just want to give back and help give others the chance to have the same opportunities I had,” Graham said.
Graham plans to continue to play sports when he goes off to college. He does not have a preference for football or basketball, and just wants to pursue the best opportunity. He hopes to study engineering and, for now, has his eye set on Purdue University or Ohio State University.