Jared King Overcomes On and Off the Field to Lead Cavaliers
Jared King is the UVA baseball team's first baseman, starting all 46 games this season.
What's more impressive is what the redshirt junior has had to overcome, not only on the field at Virginia, but off the field with his family.
King ranks in the top 25 in the ACC in on base percentage, batting average, slugging percentage, runs, triples, sac flies, runs batted in, walks, and plate appearances.
"I think, more than anything, I'm just kind of proud of my consistency," King said. "Coming into this year, I knew I was going to step into more of a leadership role, more of that everyday kind of guy over a first base."
The Radford native came to UVA in 2009 and played first, second, and third base, starting 19 games. But the kinesiology major did not play in 2010 following shoulder surgery.
UVA head coach Brian O'Connor said, "When you have a player of that magnitude that has to sit out and watch the game, they have a choice. Either they can sit there and feel sorry for themselves and not get anything out of it, or they can learn the game and help others, and he certainly has chose the path of helping others. That shows the kind of person Jared is."
King said, "I really took it as a learning experience. As soon as I had the surgery, I was ready to be back out there. Being able to be by the coaches and just watch how the game of college baseball is played, I think it was very beneficial. You never really understand how much you love something until it's taken away from you. It's the old adage."
And that old adage applies to Jared's life off the field as well.
"Both of my parents have passed away due to different cancers," King said. "Growing up, they were always my coaches. My mom was a basketball coach at Radford for a number of years. My dad was always my baseball coach. I couldn't have really asked for a better upbringing. We were never really home. We were always on the road with basketball, baseball, and golf, and then with my little sister, she's an athlete as well."
His dad died of lymphoma is 2005 when Jared was 15. His mom passed away from cervical cancer in the spring of his freshman year.
Jared and his younger sister, Kelly, have leaned on each other.
King said, "In all that, we had each other. All we had is each other. It's one of those things. You can't really describe it, but the bond that we have now is just so strong."
After his mother's passing during his freshman year, and his shoulder injury as a second-year, Jared's become a leader for the Cavaliers, hitting .321 last season, starting 46 games.
This year, the Pulaski County High School product is hitting .316 with a team-high tying 41 RBI, eighth best in the ACC. He ranks fourth in the conference in walks and on-base percentage.
And it's his parent's memory that drives his dedication in life on and off the field.
"I think, through everything I've been through, they really prepared me," said King. "They obviously couldn't have known what was going to happen, but I think the experiences that I've had have really prepared me to be here with or without them."
"I'm as proud of him as I ever have been of a player," O'Connor said. "He's certainly made the most out of his experience here at the University of Virginia. He's somebody that has a lot of confidence in himself, but he's also very humble. A lot of that is due to where he comes from. I'm certainly very, very glad that he's on our side."
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