The Barnes House prepares for the annual Thanksgiving. Seven boys and girls aged 22 to 6 play street soccer outside their Compton home, with father Jamaal and mother Leslie serving as quarterbacks.
“I hope they lose and I continue to be the Thanksgiving champion,” said Jamaal, a basketball coach at Garfield High.
“This house is very competitive, no matter what it is,” said Jayden, junior wide receiver and quarterback on the Garfield football team. “He never loses. He always cheats when he plays. That’s how he wins.”
Yes, the chatter started before the turkey and sweet potatoes were served.
Unfortunately, Jayden has been banned from this year’s family classic.
“This year is different,” Jamaal said.
The family is taking no chances as the city’s open division championship is on the line at Valley College on Saturday when Garfield plays Lake Balboa in Birmingham, so the threat of injury will force Jayden to choose a side. Something tells me that mom gets his support, since she cooks.
“I love yams,” he said.
The Barnes family has been immersed in the East LA sports experience, although it was by accident. When Jayden was 5 years old and looking for a youth football team, his local program closed. The East LA team adopted him and the rest is history. He has played junior football with over a dozen Garfield players for many years and now they are in a position to become the best in the city section.
“We are praying for the city championship in the house,” Jamaal said.
Jayden, a 6-foot, 170-pound junior, leads the team with 29 receptions for eight touchdowns. He also has seven interceptions.
Jamaal, a family photographer, has so many photos of his kids playing sports over the years that he could have his own Sports Illustrated magazine.
Jayden used to be part of the “breakfast club”, waking up when he heard his dad’s alarm clock to train early in the morning. He has developed into an outstanding athlete who plays a major role in football and basketball.
“It was never difficult for me to get him to train,” Jamaal said. “He pestered you: “Are we doing anything today?” “
The dad is rooting for his son’s football season not to end this weekend, although that means he may not have his All-City point guard for weeks. Daughter Jada, aged 15, is a sophomore on the women’s basketball team.
While other siblings attended La Verne Bonita, Jayden grew up around his East Los Angeles friends.
“I surrounded myself with a lot of wonderful people,” he said. “There are a lot of traditions and everyone sticks together.”
In particular, the community is entering big games, such as against Roosevelt’s rival in East Los Angeles Classic, which drew 30,000 spectators at the Colosseum at the beginning of this season. Garfield needs to have another strong fan base at Valley College to make Birmingham feel like it’s an away game.
On Thursday morning, Jayden will train with the football team and then return to watch the family battle. Then it’s time to feast on his mom’s cooking. According to Jayden, they will watch football on TV and chat about trifles to see who gets the food first.
Mom will be fine no matter who wins the street soccer game.
“She is our rock,” Jamaal said. “Sometimes we let her win so she can cook us food with love.”