Jayson Gee has long made a name for himself on the basketball court.
He was a star on the 1983-84 Springfield South team that was 20-0 and rated No. 1 in the state and he was an All-American at the University of Charleston.
As a head coach at Charleston – where his teams went 160-55 – he recruited Ajamu Gaines of Springfield South, who became the NCAA Division II National Player of the Year and Trotwood Madison’s Kalan Smith and Carl Edwards, who became All Americans.
As a Cleveland State assistant, he recruited Dunbar’s Norris Cole who became the Horizon League Player of the Year and a two-time NBA champ with the Miami Heat.
Yet, as anyone who attends his free talk Thursday night at Sinclair Community College will find out, the true measure of Gee is not found in a box score or a coaching resume.
He showed what he was made of back in December of 2004 when he was the associate head coach at St. Bonaventure, a team led by head coach Anthony Solomon, now a University of Dayton assistant.
That’s when Gee’s 11-year-old son Brandon suddenly was diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia.
For Jayson and wife Lynette, that began as three-year ordeal to try to pull their son back from an often vegetative state punctuated by hallucinations and volatile outbursts.
Medical personnel told them their son would never be the same, but the Gees – banking on prayer, love and unbending resolve – refused to give up.
While coaching the Bonnies, Gee regularly made the three-hour round trip to visit his son in a mental health facility. Finally, when he took the job in Cleveland – and Brandon ended up in the care of Dr. Roseline Okon, who got him admitted to the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md. – his son’s situation changed drastically.
Given a proper drug blend, Brandon returned from his fog, became a high school basketball player and now works helping others with mental illnesses while coaching basketball himself.
After being the head coach at Longwood for five seasons, Jason is now an assistant at Winthrop.
The family’s story has been made into a book – “The Battle for Brandon” co-authored by Chad Bonham – and into a documentary film.
“This is a tremendous story of faith and love and a family not giving up,” said Michael Carter, head of Sinclair’s Diversity Office, which is presenting Gee tonight, an assistant coach on that 1983-84 South team and the Trotwood coach who sent Smith and Edwards to Charleston.
“This is just an amazing tale that went from real tragedy to a powerful situation of triumph and blessings.”
Gee’s presentation begins at 5:30 p.m. in Sinclair’s Building 12, Room 116.