Spearman overcomes adversity to succeed on the court and in the classroom

Published 10:15 am Monday, April 3, 2023

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By Josh Bean/Submitted Article

Charles Henderson senior Jayden Spearman has made the most of his second chance.

Spearman battled self-destructive behavior throughout middle school, after discovering his mother’s battle with drug addiction. While he remains reluctant to discuss details surrounding his turbulent childhood, the 17-year-old said he would routinely spend a few days or up to a week couch-surfing with friends instead of returning home.

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With so little supervision, he admits to poor decision-making, which led to disciplinary problems at school and bad grades. “I was doing bad stuff,” he said.

Not anymore. Spearman transferred to Charles Henderson to live with his uncle during his sophomore year of high school and joined the basketball team as a junior. Basketball became his sanctuary. The 6-foot-3-inch wing earned Class 5A Third Team All-State honors this season and helped the Trojans finish as state runner-up in Class 5A. He scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked two shots in the state title game against Valley.

Those who know Spearman, including basketball coach Timothy Fayson and his wife, Lise, who is Charles Henderson’s principal, rave about his tenacity and ability to overcome his past. Those are critical reasons he’s one of 52 regional winners in the Bryant-Jordan Scholarship Program’s Achievement category, which honors senior athletes who have overcome personal adversity to excel. All regional winners receive a $3,000 scholarship and could receive more when statewide winners are announced at the annual Bryant-Jordan banquet April 10 in Birmingham.

Jayden Spearman (11) scored 21 points in a CHHS win over Greenville and 25 points against Pike Road. (Photo by Dan Smith)

Lise Fayson said, “it’s two totally different people” when comparing 13-year-old Jayden to the current version. Jayden now carries a 3.4 GPA and has been on the A/B honor roll for the last two years.

“My old self, I was just out doing stuff,” he said. “Now, I’m down here, I see I have a future ahead of myself, and I needed to change.”

Change didn’t happen overnight. When his uncle initially agreed for him to move to Troy, Spearman’s mother withheld her consent. Then, once he made the move during his sophomore year of high school, he couldn’t enroll at Charles Henderson until his uncle gained legal custody.

That led to a couple of months in which he wasn’t enrolled at any school, leaving him in education limbo with little to do and no basketball. He felt despondent. Once enrolled at Charles Henderson, it didn’t take long for Tim Fayson to hear his players raving about Jayden.

“The guys were like, ‘Hey, this guy can play,’” the coach remembered.

Spearman joined the program as a junior, but wasn’t a front-line player as the Trojans’ roster featured 11 seniors. Tim Fayson didn’t know anything about Jayden’s unstable childhood until the teen “broke down” while the coach drove him home after a practice.

Tim Fayson understood, having grown up “in the projects” in Troy. He played junior college basketball in Monroeville before finishing his career, and his degree, at Troy University. The Faysons quickly became the mentors and role models Spearman needed. All the while, his home situation remained rocky as he worked to get to know his aunt and uncle and understand their expectations.

Those struggles sometimes spilled into the classroom and onto the basketball court, as Spearman said he considered “giving up.” Basketball provided solace. Spearman now holds offers to play basketball at Enterprise State and Bevill State community colleges, opening an avenue to higher education and a college degree.

“When I’m on the court, all that stuff goes away,” he said. “When I’m playing on the court, playing with my teammates, all that stuff just goes away. “
His focus on basketball has helped him focus more on the positive things now in his life. He now sees a future. Tim Fayson said he understands Jayden’s perspective and works to cultivate the teen’s basketball dream.

“I didn’t want him to give up on that chance, because I know it can be life changing. I’m a perfect example, coming out of the projects and making it,” the coach said. “He found a reason to keep going. That is why I’m proud of him. Every time that doubt creeped in, he found a way to overcome it. Now, he can start seeing the fruits. Life is about choices and opportunity and taking advantage.”

The Faysons also own a home remodeling business – renovating and flipping houses – and Spearman often works a part-time job assisting with that work. What does he do? “The grunt work,” Tim Fayson joked.

Spearman has previously worked at two fast-food restaurants, but said he prefers doing demolition, hanging drywall or painting on construction projects. Everything about Spearman, from his blossoming basketball career to his strong GPA, to his ability as a reliable construction worker, stands in stark contrast to his life before arriving in Troy. Lise Fayson has seen the changes in Spearman since he arrived at Troy.
He also joined the track team this spring for the first time, participating in the long jump, high jump and triple jump events.

“Now that I know the whole story, it’s amazing,” Tim Fayson said. “I have seen so many students give up. Try to talk to (them), talk to (them). They can’t shake it. The fact he is sitting here and is a young man getting ready to graduate, getting ready to sign a basketball scholarship … I’m just proud of everything he has done.

“I just think about some of the (text) messages he sent me, but he never gave up. He stayed in there. That’s a testament to him.”