Former Hawks’ men’s basketball captain turns entrepreneur

May 1, 2024 | Sports

From a university dropout to valedictorian and entrepreneur, a Humber men’s basketball player never thought he would be where he is today five years ago.

Jamani Barrett, a fifth-year Media Communications and Humber men’s basketball player, said his journey dealing with life’s obstacles and being resilient led him onto the path to success.

Barrett said basketball was something he always enjoyed and was active in as a kid.

He said he did not have the opportunity to play on teams or organizations when he was young because of his family’s financial status at the time, so he played on his school’s basketball team.

Life on the basketball court

Barrett started playing basketball for fun in Grade 9 at St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Secondary School in Brampton. He said he quit after taking track workouts and sprint runs in the cold.

He picked up the sport again after a teammate offered that he play for the rep organization Breakdown Basketball.

Barrett said he enjoyed his time there. He had a scholarship to play with the organization, which helped him hone and develop his skills.

Barrett said he volunteered to be able to pay the fees up until Grade 11, which was his last year at St. Marguerite d’Youville.

He said he was recruited to play at some prep schools in Vaughan, and he transferred to play at Father Henry Carr C.S.S. in Etobicoke. He suffered an injury during his first few months there, forcing him to miss most of the season.

Photo of Jamani Barrett holding his Valedictorian trophy.

Photo of Jamani Barrett holding his Valedictorian trophy. Photo credit: Courtesy, Jamani Barrett

After recovering from his injury, he played rep basketball for the Mississauga Monarchs, where he got to play tournament games in Boston. He caught the attention of one recruiter who got him multiple junior college offers.

One of his offers was a contract to play for Midland College in Texas. He said he learned many lessons there but it was “a living hell to some degree.

“We played the season with a majority of six people, five people got kicked off the team by October,” Barrett said. “So it was just me and a couple of other Canadians. We stuck it out and by the end of the season, they had released us all.”

After being released, the 6-foot-7 power forward looked at other places to play and committed to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay because their competition level and play exceeded his other options.

He played eight games for the 2019-’20 season for the fifth-ranked Thunderwolves before he suffered a knee injury. It was then he started videotaping highlight reels for teammates.

While sidelined by injury and the pandemic, he found a passion for video production. He and teammate Chume Nwigwe launched 222 Productions, focusing on basketball players. That later expanded to include marketing for area businesses.

He came to Humber to film a colleague but ended up filming the team’s entire journey that season.

“I almost felt as if I was a part of the team, but behind the lens,” Barrett said.

He was offered to play for Humber, including a scholarship.

“I thought it was a no-brainer,” he said.

However, due to dropping out of university and having a poor transcript, he couldn’t play for Humber until November 2023.

The following season, Humber men’s basketball coach Omar Miles made Barrett team captain.

Roster photo of Jamani Barrett in his Humber Basketball jersey.

Roster photo of Jamani Barrett in his Humber Hawks basketball jersey. Photo credit: Courtesy, Jamani Barrett

But after being named captain, an MRI result showed he had a torn meniscus in the same knee he previously injured.

“To lead a group of guys on a journey to achieve something great was hindered by an injury that started this entire conflict between athlete or entrepreneur,” he said.

Barrett often finds himself being grateful for experiencing the injuries he’s suffered.

“I think everything kind of happens for a reason, especially in terms of that first ACL injury,” Barrett said.

He said it opened his eyes to see life outside of basketball regardless of how life-altering the injury was.

“Without that perspective, I would be nowhere near where I am today. So I’m very grateful for that,” Barrett said.

Basketball Achievements, Life Accomplishments

Throughout his time at Humber, Barrett received many accolades for his hard work.

Being named team captain was one of them. He said the coach said he was chosen because of his leadership and ability to be a role model.

He held that comment near to his heart throughout the season for those moments when he lacked the motivation to get up and attend practice.

Barrett received three scholarships at Humber: the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation Social Impact Bursary, the Robert Gordon Scholarship, and the Kenny Edger Memorial Scholarship.

Jamani Barrett with a family member after winning the 2023 OCAA Championship wearing his medal.

Jamani Barrett with a family member after winning the 2023 OCAA Championship. Photo credit: Courtesy, Jamani Barrett

Humber Recreation picked him as an Employee of the Month and the Athletic Directors elected him as the Athletics Male Valedictorian.

“Honestly, it was just more motivation for me to get back to the reason why I came to Humber,” Barrett said. “I came to Humber to get something, which was a credential, and I kind of just proved to myself that the numbers on the paper from the previous institutions don’t define me.”

His list of personal achievements is impressive, but he also reached new heights with his team.

This year, the Humber’s men’s basketball team is the reigning Ontario College Athletics Association Gold Medal champion and holds the Canadian College Athletics Association Bronze Medal.

Life After Humber

His passion for video production took him to the U.S., where he filmed A-list artists, including Chris Brown and YK Osiris. He used his time at Humber to hone his skills as a video producer and did video marketing for the Humber Hawks.

Now Barrett is using his experience to give back to Humber by using his entrepreneurial skills to develop a lifestyle brand called TwerpLyfe Originals: Far From Average.

“A twerp is kind of like a bold individual who is willing to pursue what they want regardless of how uncertain the outcome may be,” Barrett said.

Photo of Jamani Barrett filming for a project.

Jamani Barrett filming for a project. Photo credit: Courtesy, Jamani Barrett

“I envision giving back to the Humber community and the community outside of Humber through events and mentorship,” he said.

“I want to almost be a teacher without being a teacher,” Barrett said.

Regardless if it’s Humber or another institution, he wants to align himself with other like-minded people who “value the importance of helping our youth navigate their young adolescence.”

Barrett previously met with the Humber administration about his plans to help and advocate for the student population.

His focus now is on giving back to communities and advocating for student-athletes while growing TwerpLyfe.

“On a daily basis, I think every individual struggles, whether it may be mental, physical, spiritual, financial, whatever it is,” he said.

He uses social media to help inspire others and prove that with focus, dedication, and consistency, to say that anyone can achieve their goals.

“I want readers and viewers to know that I’m no different than they are,” he said.

Barrett said as much as he’s scared to be vulnerable, he knows it’s beneficial.

“If you’re never vulnerable, people will never be able to truly understand what you go through and how you can relate,” he said.