World Traveler, Entrepreneur, Teacher, Mentor
JaJa Richards (born November 19, 1974) is a former professional basketball player. Richards was born on the island of Saint Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands to Jacquelyn Boulware and Emmett Richards. Richards grew up in the greater Miami, Florida area attending Miami Edison Senior High. He began his college career at Barber Scotia College in North Carolina and then continued at Pensacola Junior College (PJC) in Florida. After being heavily recruited at PJC as a sophomore, Richards settled on Loyola University Chicago (LUC) to finish his college education. He felt that LUC presented the best opportunity to receive a good education and continue to pursue his dream of playing basketball. Richards finished his collegiate playing career in 1997 but went undrafted. He returned to Loyola and upon completion of his Bachelor of Arts in History, had the beneficial opportunity to teach Social Studies at an alternative school in Delaware and learned a great deal in guiding at-risk youth and developing responsible citizens. Following this teaching experience, Richards pursued a professional basketball career in a variety of countries that spanned fourteen years (1998-2012). In 2012, Richards completed his Master in Educational Leadership, graduating magna cum laude.
In June 2011, Richards married his girlfriend, Hashi Nagubadi. On February 11, 2012, at 11:01 PM, Hashi gave birth to their first child, JaJa Arjuna. He weighed 8 lbs, 13.5oz and was 22 inches long. With the birth of his son, Richards has retired from basketball and ventured into coaching and mentoring youth.
1997 (VI; Honduras) Back to Top
Richards competed with his Native Virgin Islands Senior Men’s Team in Central Basket Tournament held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Centrobasket is a FIBA-sponsored basketball tournament where national teams from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean participate. These countries make up the Central American and Caribbean Confederation (CONCENCABA). The top three or four teams typically earn berths to the FIBA Americas Championship, from which they can qualify for the FIBA World Championship or Olympics.
1998 (USA, Delaware; USA, Tampa Bay; USA, Mansfield, Israel, Hapoel) Back to Top
Delaware Blue Bombers (ABA) - The Blue Bombers were a minor league pro basketball team that competed in a newly formed, entrepreneurial league, The American Basketball Association. The league lasted from 1993 – 1999. Richards earned all-rookie honors during the season. While playing for the Blue Bombers, Richards worked as a permanent substitute teacher at Telegraph Road Learning Center. The school, which was an alternative school in the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Delaware, is now known as The Central School. While there, Richards had the opportunity to teach Social Studies and gained confidence in his teaching skills and developed his teaching ability.
Tampa Bay Windjammers (USBL) - Richards briefly represented the Windjammers in The United States Basketball League, a professional men's spring basketball league that played a late-spring to early-summer schedule. The league was formed in 1985 and folded in 2008. It has been rumored that the league will resume play.
During the summer of 1998, Richards signed his first professional contract to play International Basketball with Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel. Richards described it as a great overall experience to live in a foreign country and learn the customs of another culture and play professional basketball. However, it was also his first experience with the business side of the game. Richards was injured and could no longer play or practice. Since he was not practicing and could not play the team decided to not pay him, so he eventually left the team. Richards returned back to the states and in November 1998 joined the Mansfield Hawks of the International Basketball League (IBA). He averaged 8.1ppg, and 6.9rpg. He played for Legendary Coach Kevin Mackey and alongside 7-foot-2, 320-pound center Garth Joseph. The Hawks won the IBA championship that season. Back to Top
1999 (China,Beijing Aoshen; VI; Cuba; Puerto Rico,Isabela)
In January, Richards signed on to play for Beijing Aoshen in the China Basketball Association (CBA) and averaged 21.1ppg, 10.9rpg. Beijing Aoshen made their CBA debut in the 1998–99 season. A key player on the team was Ma Jian. In an unprecedented move, they hired a female coach, Li Xin, but she was fired after only five games and replaced by Mike McGee, a former member of the Los Angeles Lakers, who became the first non-Chinese coach in the CBA. Aoshen finished fourth and lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Bayi Rockets. During his stint with Aoshen, Richards competed against the likes of future NBA talent Wang Zhizhi of the Bayi Rockets, and Yao Ming of the Shanghai Sharks. This was to be his first of four seasons playing professionally in China.
During the summer of 1999, Richards again represented his Native Virgin Islands in the Central Basket Tournament, this time held in Havana, Cuba. He helped his country to a 5th place finish. He signed a professional contract with the Isabela Gallitos of Puerto Rico finishing as one of the top rebounders in the league with an average of 10.8rpg. This was his first of 9 seasons playing in the professional men's basketball league in Puerto Rico. Baloncesto Superior Nacional or BSN (literally "National Superior Basketball") was established in 1929 and has produced players that have distinguished themselves in the NBA, Euroleague, and other tournaments throughout the world. Among them, NBA players José Ortiz, Daniel Santiago, Carlos Arroyo and José Juan Barea started their careers playing for BSN teams.
1999-2000 (Franca, Brazil)
Richards played for Franca Basquetebol Clube where he was a teammate of future NBA star Anderson Varejao. Franca Basquetbol Clube is a Brazilian men's basketball club based in Franca, São Paulo state. It was founded on September 4, 1953. During the 1999 -2000 season Franca won the PanAmerican Club Championships and finished as vice champions in the Campeonato Paulista. Franca won Campeonato Brasileiro de Basquete (Brazilian Basketball League) in 1998-1999. This was the main men's basketball league in Brazil. The championship was organized by the Brazilian confederation, CBB. In 2000, the team lost in the semifinals. Franca also lost in the semifinals of The Liga Sudamericana (South American League) which is the second most important South American basketball tournament at the club level, the first being the FIBA Americas League. It is organized by the South American Basketball Confederation.
2000 (Barbados; Virgin Islands) Back to Top
In the summer of 2000, Richards represented The Virgin Islands in the CBC Championship. The CBC is a FIBA-sponsored basketball tournament where national teams from the Caribbean participate. These countries make up Caribbean Basketball Confederation (CBC). The top three or four teams typically earn berths to Centrobasket where they compete for spots in the FIBA Americas Championship, from which they can qualify for the FIBA World Championship or Olympics. At the 2000 CBC, the Virgin Islands took home the Silver medal losing to host country Barbados in the Championship.
2000-2001 (NBA (76ers) USA; Cincinnati Stuff; USA, NDBL; Puerto Rico, Bayamon; Argentina)
Richards started the season with The Cincinnati Stuff, a professional basketball team in Cincinnati, Ohio. The team was a founding member of the International Basketball League, which formed in 1999. Following the 2000-2001 seasons, due to poor attendance, the International Basketball League ceased operations, and the Cincinnati Stuff disbanded.
After leaving the Cincinnati Stuff mid season, Richards played with the NBA Ambassadors in the 6th annual South American League Basketball Championship; NBA Ambassadors was a team representing the NBA’s new developmental league, The NBDL and coached by NBA Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald.
In May 2001, Richards signed with Vaqueros de Bayamon in the BSN league of Puerto Rico. Founded in 1930, Vaqueros is one of the original teams and` one of the most successful franchises. They have won 14 championships and 6 sub-championships. Richards left in July to attend camp with NBA Philadelphia 76ers. He returned to Bayamon to help lead the Vaqueros to the BSN League Championship. However, they eventually lost the Finals Series to defending champions Cangrejeros de Santurce.
Richards represented his Native Virgin Islands from August 16 to August 27, 2001 in the FIBA 2001 Tournament of the Americas, held in Neuquen, Argentina. The games featured 10 teams and served as the championship tournament for North, South and Central Americas, as well as the qualifying tournament to determine the five nations from the FIBA Americas zone that would qualify for the 2002 FIBA World Championship in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Virgin Islands finished 7th and did not qualify for the FIBA World Championships.
2001 – 2002 ( Brasil; Puerto Rico, Bayamon; Ecuador, Mavort; Chile)
In the fall of 2001, Richards joined Automovel Clube Campos in Rio de Janiero, Brasil for the ‘01-02 season. Early in 2002, Richards injured his meniscus and went home. He attempted to return to the Vaqueros de Bayamon (Puerto Rico-BSN) to make another run to the finals but he was ineffective due to his injury and shortly released by management. He took the summer of 2002 off to rehabilitate and recuperate from his knee injury.
After returning from his meniscus injury, Richards signed with the Club Deportivo Mavort based in Quito, Ecuador. The contract was to compete with the team in the 2002 South American Club Championships in Valdivia, Chile. Richards severely injured his ankle during the first game of the tournament and did not play again until 2003.
2003 (Puerto Rico, Coamo; VI; Mexico)
Richards signed with Maratonistas de Coamo (Puerto Rico-BSN) in February of 2003. He was briefly replaced with Torraye Braggs while he competed with The Virgin Islands National Team from June 17 to June 22, 2003 in the Men's Central American and Caribbean Basketball Championship, also known as the 2003 Centro Basket, which was held in the city of Culiacán, Mexico. The Virgin Islands lost the bronze medal to Mexico in a close game decided by 2 points. However, they still qualified for the 2003 PreOlymics. Richards returned to Coamo where he was named to the all defensive team. He helped Coamo reach the playoffs where they were then eliminated in the round robin of playoffs. Later that summer, Richards again competed with his Virgin Islands National Team in the 2003 FIBA Americas Championship (Pan-American Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Men) was hosted by Puerto Rico from August 20 to August 31, 2003. The games were played in San Juan at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum. This FIBA Americas Championship was to earn the three berths allocated to the Americas for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. The United States won the tournament. The Virgin Islands finished last and did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics.
2004 (Puerto Rico, Coamo; Mexico,Victoria; Kosovo)
Richards returned to Maratonistas de Coamo (Puerto Rico-BSN): 30 games: 8.4ppg, 9.4rpg, 1.9apg, 2.6bpg. He finished the season as the leader in blocks shots and as a member of the all defensive team. The team went all the way to the Finals and lost a decisive game 7 to the Leones de Ponce.
Following his run to the finals with Coamo, in August of 2004 Richards signed with Correcaminos of UAT Victoria (MEX-LNBP) while he waited for more lucrative offers in Europe.
In September of 2004, Richards signed with Mabetex Prishtinë (KOS -Superleague). He left in January 2005, for a double contract offer in Philippines.
2005 (Philippines,Coca Cola; Puerto Rico,Coamo; China,Tianjin)
Despite averaging a double-double and 2 blocked shots per game, Richards stay in the Philippines was short with the Coca-Cola Tigers (PHI-PBA) Fiesta Conference and he averaged 11.5ppg, 13.3rpg, 2.0bpg,
Upon his release from the Coca Cola Tigers, Richards returned to Puerto Rico and for the third summer in a row signed with the Maratonistas de Coamo (Puerto Rico-BSN): 22 games: 6.1ppg, 8.4rpg, 2.3bpg, 2FGP: 48.0%, FT: 46.0%
At the end of the BSN season, Richards signed with TianJin Peace Bay which competes in the Chinese 2nd Division (CHN-CBL) and helped the team to a 3rd place finish.
2005-2006 (Italy; Turkey,Mersin; VI; China,TianJin)
After completing his season in China, Richards went to Italy for a tryout with Napoli. Before the Italian team came to a decision, Richards accepted a contract from Turkish team Mersin Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-D1): 28 games: 9.5ppg, Reb-2 (10.2rpg) 1.1spg, 2FGP: 59.0%, 3PT: 52.0%, FT: 64.0%. He set a Turkish league record with 25 rebounds in one game!
In the summer of 2006, Richards once again represented The Virgin Islands in the CBC Championship. Virgin Islands took the silver medal losing to host country Jamaica. That 2nd place finish qualified the Virgin Islands for the The 2006 Men's Central American and Caribbean Basketball Championship, which was held in Panama City, Panama. The Virgins Islands took 2nd place at the tournament in Panama making them of one Four teams which qualified for the FIBA Americas Championship 2007 in Las Vegas, as well as one of three teams that qualified for the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Upon completing his duties with the Virgin Islands, Richards returned to TianJin Peace Bay (CHN-CBL), this time helping the team to a 2nd place finish.
2006-2007 (Ukraine,BC Kyiv; Turkey,Mersin)
In August 2006, Richards joined BC Kyiv (Ukraine -Superleague) and left in October 2006 returning back to Turkey signing again with Mersin Buyuksehir Belediyesi (Turkey-TBL), Richards started very strong averaging a double double per game prior to being injured in November 2006. After his injury, he returned in a reserve role and over the final 19 games had pedestrian averages of 5.4ppg, 4.4rpg, 2FGP: 56.0%, FT: 62.2%
2007 (China,Tianjin; VI)
Richards returned again to TianJin Peace Bay (CHN-CBL) and as they say the third time is a charm and in his 3rd season with TianJin, Richards led the team to a First Place and Gold Medal in China 2nd Division. The following year, Tianjin would move up and compete in China’s 1st division
Richards returned to compete with the Virgin Islands for the FIBA Americas Championships 2007 (The Tournament of the Americas) held at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas from August 22 to September 2. The top teams qualify for berths in the 2008 Olympics. Richards injured his shoulder in the 2nd game against Canada and was unable to compete in the rest of the tournament. The Virgin Islands did not qualify for the 2008 Olympics.
2007-2008 (USA, Miami Tropics; Puerto Rico, Humacao; Mexico, Barreteros)
Richards competed in the FIBA Americas League with The Miami Tropics and play began on December 4. The Tropics reached the Final Four of the league which was played from February 7 to February 9 in Mexicali, Mexico, home of the hosting team, Soles de Mexicali. Richards helped the Miami Tropics to a 3rd place finish in the inaugural FIBA League of Americas tournament.
Richards was drafted in the (Community Sweepstakes) by Los Grises de Humacao (Puerto Rico-BSN Community Draft, 1st round (1st pick)) and played the 2008 BSN season. Humacao lost in the first round of the playoffs to Bayamon.
In September of 2008, Richards signed with the Barreteros de Zacatecas of the LNBP (Mexico). Richards led league in Block shots and finished as one of the top rebounders in league.
2009 (Uruguay, Club Malvin; Mexico, Guaymas; Ecuador, Barcelona)
Richards signed to play with Club Malvin in the LUB (Uruguay). Richards led Club Malvin to the semifinals where they lost to league runner up Defensor Sporting.
Richards returned to Mexico this time with the Ostioneros de Guaymas in the League CiBaCopa (Mexico). Richards led Guaymas to the playoffs where they lost in Semifinals to the Rayados de Hermosillo.
Richards continued his busy summer of 2009 by playing in the Guayas Local League (Ecuador) with Barcelona Sporting Club where he lost in Finals to LaSalle.
Richards returned to Barreteros de Zacatecas LNBP (Mexico) where Zacatecas lost in the 1st round of playoffs to Pioneeros de Cancun.
2010 (VI; DR; Puerto Rico)
Richards competed with the Virgin Islands in the 2010 Centrobasket, was hosted in the Dominican Republic. This same summer, Richards joined the Virgin Islands team for the Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC or CACGs) held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The CACGs are a multi-sport regional championships event, held quadrennial (every 4 years), typically in the middle (even) year between Summer Olympics. The Games are for countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Bermuda, and the South American countries of Surinam, Guyana, Colombia and Venezuela. The CACGs are the oldest continuing regional games in the world, and only the Olympics have run longer.
2010-11 (Mexico, Lobos Grises; Mexico, Fuerza Regia)
LNBP (Mexico)-- Richards started the season with The Lobos Grises de Durango. However, mid-season, he transferred to Fuerza Regia de Monterrey and lost in the league Semi Finals to Pioneeros de Cancun.
2011-12 (Mexico, Barreteros)
Richards joined the Barreteros de Zacatecas LNBP (Mexico) mid-season in a reserve role. They lost in 2nd round playoffs to LNBP champion Halcones Rojo de Veracruz.
2012 (Columbia, Miami All Stars Ecuador, ADN)
In April of 2012, Richards travelled with the Miami All Stars to Cali, Columbia to play exhibition Games and hold camps and clinics for young players. The Miami All Stars is a non-profit organization whose goal is to promote the game of basketball and provide services to youngsters in fitness, nutrition and education with an emphasis on sportsmanship, leadership, respect, positive mental attitude, nutrition, self-esteem and attending school on a regular basis.
Richards came out of retirement to return to Ecuador to compete in Liga Ecuatoriana de Baloncesto 2012 with Asociación Deportiva Naval (ADN), a team in the province of Guayas in the city of Guayaquil. ADN lost the championship to Importadora Alvarado.
Post Basketball Coaching Career
Richards was a volunteer coach with the Orlando Jr. Magic program based in Orlando, Florida since the fall of 2011. In the summer of 2012, his 15-18 age group team went through the season undefeated and won the championship.
In February 2013, Richards formed All Stars Are Bright Corporation (formerly Orlando Knights Basketball Corporation) with Co – founder, Coach Luis Martinez, a Decorated Purple Heart Veteran who served our country for fifteen (15) years. Coach Martinez is a loving father of three beautiful children who is dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of basketball and the discipline needed in life. As a member of our Armed Forces, Martinez risked life and limb to protect our freedoms. He knows the discipline and teamwork that are needed to accomplish missions and achieve goals. In their first season of competition, the Knights won the FBVA Orlando Spring tournament.
The Athlete Within Basketball School (TAW) Back to Top
In 2013 Richards then joined with former College teammate Derek Molis. In 2007, Derek Molis Founded The Athlete Within Basketball School. At the present time, TAW teaches over 2,300 Private Instructional & Group Workouts per year. TAW trains high caliber high school and collegiate players (to name a few:
Derek Marks of Boise State University: Nick Zeisloft of Illinois State University: Sean McGonagill of Brown University: Reggie Johnson of Hampton University: Claire Ryan of DePaw University). TAW also has Year Round Programming and Training that include: AAU Basketball Teams, Travel Basketball Teams, Fall Skills & Drills Programming, Private Instruction, Small Group Instruction, Summer Camps, Thanksgiving Camp, Winter/New Year’s Camps, Spring Break Camps, Team Training, and Specialized Guard and Big-Man Clinics. In October of 2012, TAW opened their very own and newly renovated Training Center named Return To Heaven Gymnasium in Lyons, IL. This is how a gym should look and feel!
TAW Basketball School Philosophy
Since TAW opened their doors in 2007, they have remained consistent with what TAW Basketball School’s message and philosophies have been throughout the years. They have primarily focused on developing kids and players on the basketball court with our unique training methods through private/group instruction as well as team structure and play. It is important that you understand their philosophies and principles.Their message has to do with life and not just about basketball. At TAW Basketball School, we strive daily to prepare our kids for not only their on the court basketball experiences, but also their off the court life lessons as well. In addition to teaching proper basketball fundamentals, TAW
Basketball School takes tremendous pride and challenges each and every one of our players and coaches to adopt and spread our message of:
TAW: Triple Threat
Become A Great Student
Become A Great Teammate
Become A Great Person
We believe these three core values are a formula for success for all the youth we have the opportunity to reach, work with, and mentor.
Jr. NBA Program Back to Top
In the summer of 2014 Richards took great pride in being selected for the great opportunity to be one the head coaches for the ‘Inspire Youth to Play’ basketball program in India. This program is a collaboration between the Reliance Foundation and the Jr. NBA. The program is anchored in a school based program which provides PE instructors/coaches the resources to teach the game and grow participation. The key goals of the program are to create a significant increase in youth basketball participation at the grassroots level and showcase the benefits of exercise to youth development by inspiring children to play. This RF/ Jr. NBA program, which works with youth ages 8-16 and grows the game of basketball, is the NBA’s largest grassroots in-school basketball program anywhere in the world.
DUNKMAMA Back to Top
In 2015 Richards had the blessing to connect with Kristina Kone and be offered a leadership role in Dunkmama. Dunkmama hosts virtual career fairs for college, professional, and Olympic level athletes across all sports with 0 to 15 years in the workforce. The work ethic and behavioral attributes of elite athletes translate directly in to a variety of careers. Our events offer a platform for companies and organizations currently hiring to interact with candidates via text, audio, and video. By connecting with former athletes you tap in to a talent market with a demonstrated history of success, experience performing under pressure, exceptional teamwork, and proven leadership.