For one thing, it is a lesson his parents, Willie and Juanita Washington
, worked too long and hard to teach him.
"I was just too hard-headed to listen to them when I was younger," Washington
said."They stayed on me about working hard in school.They didn't give up.They did the best they could to get me to listen."
Even though his
father was the athlete in days gone by, it was his
mother the school teacher, who started "turning cartwheels" once her
oldest son starting hitting the books with a vengeance, Washington
said. Two of his brothers, Kenny and Walter, are students at the University of Washington and Washington State, respectively.
Speaking from first-hand experience, Washington
has plenty of advice for his
youngest brother and other talented high school athletes."It's great for young guys to play sports and have dreams about pro ball, but they should be realistic," he
said."They should pay attention in class, do well in school and get involved in their community.For me, it's a good feeling now that basketball is not my whole life in college."
Now in his
second year as president of Whitman's Black Student Union
is developing a Big Brother/Big Sister mentoring program that matches the BSU with at-risk youngsters in the local community.He also has worked in a variety of community service projects, volunteering his time with the Special Olympics program and at a local farm labor camp and the Whitman Health Center.
life has grown beyond basketball, Washington plans to fully enjoy his
senior season this winter.He
has earned it, and he
head over young athletes who forfeit any chance to play at the collegiate level because they fail to prepare themselves academically.
"We have always had great high school basketball players in the Metro League
in Seattle, some of the best players in the country, and it's too bad that some of them never get the chance to play beyond high school," Washington
said."Too many of them never pass their college admission test.Or, if they do, they aren't able to handle the academics in college.That's sad.Really sad."