BY Bob Sherwin 01:09PM 01/31/2011

Justin Holiday’s greatest gift is his family

Shawn and Toya Holiday enjoying benefits of raising four quality children

Toya Holiday, mother of Justin Holiday, who said he can always pick out her mother's voice from the crowd / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

For anyone who has been part of a big family, you have to appreciate and admire the family of Justin Holiday, the Huskies’ 6-6 senior guard.

He has three other siblings, two brothers and a sister, and it’s likely all four will earn college basketball scholarships.

Justin Holiday, UW men's basketball, 2009-10

Justin Holiday

Justin will graduate from UW this year. His younger brother Jrue went just one year to UCLA before being drafted – 17th overall – by Philadelphia. He’s now in his second pro season, starting for the Sixers and averaging 14.4 points per game.

Younger sister Lauren, a junior at Campbell Hall High in Chatsworth, CA., will have her choice of scholarship offers. Youngest brother Aaron is just in the eighth grade and already has a stack of college correspondence. Ultimately, he could end up in a tug-a-war between his older brothers’ schools, UCLA and UW.

Imagine, four children with their college education paid for? Imagine their parents, Shawn and Toya Holiday, how nice is that not to spend a dime on their childrens’ college education?

“We all want to do that,” Justin said, “to help our parents out, let them use that money for themselves.”

It’s extraordinary, but there’s more to it.

“They are very close and really could have four pros in that family,” UW Coach Lorenzo Romar.

Jrue, 14 months younger than Justin and the first person born in the 1990s to play in the NBA, is already a pro at age 20 and could have a long NBA career. Justin is a big guard with a nice stroke. He’ll get consideration at the NBA June draft. If the WNBA is still viable in another half dozen years, Lauren Holiday is on that path.

And as for Aaron, Justin said, “he’s got my height and my brother’s size. He’s probably better than us.”

It’s a long shot – three brothers in the NBA one day – but it’s conceivable they could be a Sons of Rick Barry kind of family.

“Of course, we’ve thought about that,” Justin said. “We thought about it years before we even got to college, me and Jrue on the same team. And we joked about our sister in the NBA, too. Now that my brother is there, it’s more real but we’re not focused on that.”

Still, that’s not what makes the Holiday family so remarkable. As Romar touched on it, it’s the quality that their family unit and the character of those children that sets them apart. They are a close, functional, well-adjusted, high-achieving family, a credit to the love and attention given them by their parents.

“They’ve raised those kids very, very well,” Romar said. “They carry themselves in a really good way. And if they don’t, they’re going to hear about it from Shawn and Toya.

“They’re invested a lot in those kids. But not like some parents who are living through their kids, they’re just trying to teach them right from wrong on the basketball floor and away from the floor. They’ve stressed education. They tried teaching them culture. They’re pretty well-rounded kids.”

They all support one another. They communicate with each other, making sure they talk on the phone at least once a day. Their phone numbers are all within a digit or two so they can’t forget each other’s number.

“We have real good relationships with both parents. We were raised as good as a kid can be raised,” Justin said. “Both of them had the same plan for us. We were safe with a comfortable home and did not worry about a lot of things.

“They endured so much to have the life we have. I hope I’m half the parent my parents are. They’re like friends. I’m comfortable enough to talk with them about anything, no matter what it is.”

Jrue has hired his dad to handle various aspects of his off-court life. So he flies between home, Sixers games and Husky games. He also shows up at Husky practices to patiently feed the ball to his son and take care of anything he needs.

“It’s not easy to go to school and to play basketball. It’s a lot of pressure,” Shawn said. “They enjoy it but if they’re having a bad day it’s nice to get a call from a brother, a parent or a sister. It helps them get through it.”

Toya doesn’t have as much travel freedom as she is a dean at Campbell Hall, the girls athletic director and coach of the high school team, which features her daughter Lauren. She tries to make as many UW games as she can.

“Most of the time when I’m on the floor I don’t hear anybody,” Justin said, “But I can hear my mom.”

The biggest factor in their lives, as Shawn emphasized, is their faith and the structure it provides. He said that has helped mold their characters.

“They are trying to put their children in position to stand on their own two feet,” Romar said. “A lot of parents are ruining their children for rest of their lives because there is no longer any accountability. If you do something wrong, it was not your fault. In fact, I’ll sue you for saying that. No accountability. The Holidays are not like that. They’ve developed such a relationship, kids even self-report.”

Basketball dominates their lives but Shawn and Toya made sure that the game was not their sole focus. They encouraged their children to try out for plays, sing in choirs and have given them piano lessons. In fact, if any one of them decided not to play basketball that was fine with them.

“They took to basketball. Nothing we forced upon them,” Shawn said. “The younger ones just followed the older ones to the gym.”

Once the older boys devoted themselves to basketball, Shawn and Toya, who both played for Arizona State, provided the necessary tools. They hired a coach to train them. They put them in the highest level programs. They also share their own wisdom.

“They were blessed with gifts. We just helped to bring them out,” Shawn said. “Once they decide what they wanted to do, they put in a lot of work. They had to learn how to handle things, when to push it, when to shoot, the correct form and keeping that form even when they get tired.”

Justin, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds Sunday in the 87-80 loss to Washington State, is third on the Huskies in points, 12.7 per game, second in minutes, 27.3, third in field-goal percentage, 51.6, third in rebounds, 5.7, first in steals with 35 and third in blocked shots with 15.

Those numbers generally are better than Jrue’s one year with the Bruins. He averaged 8.3 points in 27.1 minutes, shooting 45 percent, with 3.8 rebounds, 55 steals and 18 blocks.

It doesn’t hurt Justin’s pro prospects that his younger brother already has established himself.

“It’s so funny that he’s graduating,” Shawn said. “It seems like yesterday they were both home, doing their homework, taking out the trash. Time goes by so fast. I look at them now and remember carrying them to bed.

“We enjoy our kids. We don’t know the formula. Everyone has their own ways. I’m just so happy for them because they put the work in. People don’t know the work they put in.”


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