As you might expect from a teenager, St. Francis de Sales (SFDS) sophomore Jai Aubert is quicker to point out the differences between himself and his dad than the similarities. When pressed to identify things the two have in common, Jai eventually conceded, “We both love basketball and the Lakers, and we both like cracking jokes.” When asked about the differences between them, the self-proclaimed jokester was much quicker to respond. “I have hair; my dad’s bald,” Jai deadpanned.
Their shared love of basketball has another important commonality: both have played point guard for the SFDS Pioneers. Last winter, Lanell Aubert (’94), a Chicago police officer, was working security for the school when his son Jai scored 25 points in the junior varsity game against Washington High School. “I was a proud papi,” said Lanell. “Jai had a great game.” Not surprisingly, Jai considers that game his most memorable experience at the school to-date.
Both Jai and Lanell say that SFDS coaches and teachers have had a significant impact on them. “Mr. Moore, my basketball coach, and Mr. Myers, my baseball coach, believed in me and pushed me to be better,” recounted Lanell, who went on to play baseball at Chicago State University after graduating from SFDS. Off the court, Jai credits English teacher Mr. Hodorowicz and theology teacher Mr. Warner as “fun teachers who made the work seem easy.”
Perhaps most poignantly, when asked what has been the most important aspect of their SFDS experiences, both Auberts identify the same thing: the relationships they have developed. “The friendships that I obtained while I was there and that I have kept over the years are the most important thing to me,” said Lanell, who noted that he was looking forward to his upcoming class reunion. Jai admits that entering a new school where he didn’t know anyone was “kind of nerve-wracking,” but says that his sports involvement helped him make friends early on, which has made a big difference in his high school experience.
Lanell’s two decades in law enforcement showed as he talked about the value of an SFDS education: “I think the whole idea of accountability at the school is important,” he said. “When I was a student, if you missed a class, they called your house and your parents were notified. That helped tremendously, especially with some of my friends from other schools trying to get me to play hooky at times. Lanell added, “I thank God for my mother sacrificing to send my brother and me to a private school where we could get the education we did.”
The alum says it has been wonderful seeing his son thrive at SFDS. “I’m proud of him,” Lanell beamed. “I think he’s become more responsible, and he takes the initiative to do stuff on his own. I don’t have to push him too hard.”
Jai’s independence has been particularly helpful since Lanell has his hands full with Jai's two-year-old sister, Laila Heaven Aubert. Does Lanell find being a parent the second time around any easier? “Nope, it’s definitely harder this time around,” he quipped. “Being older, I need my rest!” Fortunately for Lanell, Jai says that although he definitely plans on going to college, he doesn’t want to go somewhere far from home. “I don’t want to be too far away from my mom and dad,” Jai explained. Perhaps Lanell can expect some continued help with his daughter over the next several years—but he may want to turn down any one-on-one basketball contests!