Ja’Marr Chase’s path to NFL stardom blossomed with high school opportunity, parents’ sacrifice

CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is one of the most impressive players every time he steps on an NFL field, but it is hard work to become one of the league’s best that is more impressive.

Ja’Marr’s journey might not have brought him to Cincinnati if it wasn’t for a decision and sacrifice made by his parents.

The hallways of Archbishop Rummel High School’s football offices in Louisiana are decorated with photos of some of the most accomplished athletes in the state’s history.

It was in those halls that Ja’Marr would begin his path from a high school star to one of Cincinnati’s signature stars.

“That showed me that some of the stuff that I instilled in him, that his momma instilled in him, it’s like, our job was, like, well done,” Ja’Marr’s father, Jimmy Chase, says of his son’s drive.

Rummel High School is where Ja’Marr blossomed.

“Junior year, first game of the season, we’re playing University High out of Baton Rouge,” remembers Ja’Marr’s high school coach Jay Roth, “he catches four touchdown passes for over 220 yards.”

Roth says the team was not a team built on the passing game as they did not have a great athlete at receiver, which was until Ja’Marr arrived.

One of the country’s top wide receivers in his high school class, Ja’Marr wore a shirt and tie to class before he wore a football jersey.

“We wasn’t in the best surroundings coming up, you know,” says Jimmy. “We, we struggled at sometimes, you know, but we made sure that Ja’Marr had the best opportunities.”

Ja’Marr took full advantage of those opportunities.

“Put it this way, when Ja’Marr had to be in the weight room for 6 a.m., and you had to leave where he lived to get here, I’m sure he was getting up at 4:30 a.m.,” explains Roth. “And that’s mom and dad driving him when they could get an extra hour of sleep. So, they made a sacrifice.”

It is a more than 20-minute drive from Ja’Marr’s childhood home outside of New Orleans to the front office of Archbishop Rummel High School.

A big sacrifice for the family to send Ja’Marr there, and both parents and his high school coach say it is a big reason for his success.

“Well, drugs were a big thing here in the city,” recalls Jimmy. “You know, drugs and, I’m ain’t gonna’ say gangs, but drugs and violence, you know, is all around us and it’s, like, some of his friends got caught up in that, you know, and we just wanted to make sure – we knew it was possible, we’re not naive that, ‘it can’t happen to him.’ It can happen to anybody. You know, so, you know, we just knew we that we needed to do something to make sure that he doesn’t get caught up in that.”

Chase’s drive ensured his parents’ early morning drives and sacrifices did not go to waste as he became a high school All-American.

He was a five-star recruit, ranked No. 19 by 247Sports, with many of the top college teams recruiting him.

A teary-eyed Chase sat inside his high school as he was preparing to announce the first chapter of a story that would take him to Cincinnati stardom.

“For the next three to four years… Louisiana State University,” Ja’Marr said as he announced his college decision.

“It started out, like, when I noticed him getting up every day, like, making sure he was up for practice in the morning, make sure all of his stuff was together: his shoes, his uniform, and stuff, like that, and I just saw him taking that role where he’s serious about it,” Toleah Chase, Ja’Marr’s mother, reflects.

The halls of Archbishop Rummel High School’s football offices, where Ja’Marr would walk past photos of storied athletes, are now decorated with his own pictures.

His journey that started in those halls is on track to end in an Ohio hall where football legends live forever.

“Well, I’ve actually seen my son grow,” says Jimmy. “He’s become, he’s gone from a boy to a man. Like, he’s really, like, coming into his own, and he’s really, like, turning into a professional – a professional football player. And, I’m sitting down watching, experiencing that transformation, and it’s, like, all the work that I put in with him over the years? It’s paying off now. So, I can just sit back and relax.”

Ja’Marr says his work ethic and physical strength he has today were built inside the weight room at Rummel High School.

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