Jamel Pink’s journey from Reading, Pennsylvania to Reedley College in Fresno County is a testament to his resilience to overcome tragedy, injury, and debilitating mental health challenges.
When Jamel’s older brother, Jamain, achieved success playing college football for Lincoln University near Oxford, Pennsylvania, it inspired him to also pursue education and football. However, in August 2020, tragedy struck when both were shot. While Jamel recovered from his wounds, Jamain did not.
Jamel resolved to honor his brother and play college football. At the suggestion of a friend, Jamel reached out to a coach at Reedley College to request a tryout. A week before the spring 2021 semester began, he was accepted.
His freshman season in fall 2021 was cut short due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in practice midway through the season. But in just four games, he excelled, recording six tackles and three sacks. He also performed academically, earning a spot on the dean’s list. Following surgery, Jamel returned home for two semesters to rehabilitate his knee while taking online classes. During this time, Jamel experienced headaches, insomnia, and lack of an appetite, and he spent most of his free time secluded.
Despite these challenges, Jamel returned to Reedley laser-focused on playing football and earning his degree. However, when his athletic trainer, Stacey Mendoza, identified Jamel’s symptoms of depression, she encouraged him to seek professional help.
For the last several months, Jamel has followed a treatment plan of medication and therapy to address his depression. While he admits he is still working through his challenges, he is feeling much more like himself.
This season, the 6-foot-4, 270 pound defensive end has appeared in seven games for the Tigers, recording seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for a loss. He will graduate in December and hopes to transfer to a four-year institution and continue playing football.
“Throughout this journey, I have become very aware of how important your mental health is, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why I advocate for seeking professional help,” explained Jamel. “I aspire to be a role model for those dealing with mental health issues. My story is proof that resilience can triumph over despair.”