Al Ricardo Jefferson (born January 4, 1985 in Monticello, Mississippi) is an American professional basketball player for the Utah Jazz of the NBA.
Born on January 4, 1985 in Monticello, Mississippi, Al spent his childhood in the small nearby town of Prentiss, complete with a population of just 1,500. The Jefferson family was a staple of the Progress community, a close-knit, predominantly black section of Prentiss. While his mother Laura worked as an assistant teacher in Prentiss Elementary School, Al's father was killed in a work-related accident when he was very young, leaving him without the guidance and discipline a father figure provides. He had a strong support system around him – his grandmother, Gladys Jefferson, lived on the same property as Al and his mother, and several other family members lived in the nearby town of Progress. But not having a father in his life allowed Al to find his way into trouble as a boy. As Al entered his teen years, though, an incredible growth spurt saw him sprout into a 6'4” eighth-grader, and saw him discover what would become his first love; basketball. Dr. Jefferson himself had been a stand-out player, earning a scholarship in the early 1970s to play for the University of Southern Mississippi. He helped Al to learn the game, and the youngster's enthusiasm for the sport, along with his incredible size, became impossible to ignore.
Al started as a freshman for Prentiss's varsity squad, and it was evident he possessed superior athletic ability in addition to his now 6'8” frame. But it was in his junior season where he became one of the elite players in the country, drawing the attention of both college coaches around the country, and the scouts of the NBA. Jefferson attended Prentiss High School in Prentiss, Mississippi from 2000–2004. In his senior year for the Bulldogs he averaged 42.6 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 blocks per game. He had earned a scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas to play with the Arkansas Razorbacks but opted out to enter the 2004 NBA Draft.