When everyone hears the name, Jalen Crawford, one thing that darts straight to the mind is basketball. As one of Maclay’s top shooting guards, Crawford spends each game at the three-point line putting his best foot forward to make every shot he throws. While his basketball career is one of his top priorities, Crawford has a dueling love for the arts, specifically dancing and rapping.
Growing up as the son of a dance studio owner, Crawford fell in love with the art and began classes at the age of five. Taking hip hop classes nearly every day for two to three hours allowed him to further this passion and do it on a more consistent and competitive level.
“My mom started her own dance studio and I loved to groove with it, so I got into it immediately,” Crawford said.
With the strong influence of his family and his love for music, dancing came easily to Crawford. When asked who his biggest inspiration in the dance world is, Crawford credited his love and experience for dance to his mom, Wendy Crawford, the owner of Dance Fusion Studios (DFS) here in Tallahassee.
“In the dance world [my biggest inspiration is] my mom, no doubt,” Crawford said. “She has been doing it her whole life. She’s been helping out little kids, so I feel like she is my biggest inspiration off of that.”
With this hobby starting at such a young age, his relationship with dance, many years later sparked a more recent passion. Through the influence of a close friend, Crawford was soon exposed to the world of music, jumpstarting his love for rapping.
“[Expressing myself through music] is pretty good,” Crawford said. “It [allows me to] let everything out every time I get on the mic, so it is always good for me.”
With an album in the works right now, Crawford plans his schedule to fit in at least one quality day of work in the studio a week. Although many may not know about these other dedications, Crawford displays the same amount of effort and hard work to dance and rap as he does to basketball.
“Jalen’s love for dance inspires me as a teacher because he doesn’t have much training due to his first love being basketball, and yet he is so willing to learn and eager to be a part of anytime his schedule allows him to do so,” W. Crawford said. “A lot of dancers are hyper-aware of what they look and feel like when dancing. They can sometimes be easily embarrassed because they are so focused on being perfect that they will block their growth. Jalen however, understands that everyone starts somewhere and has always been okay with the process, not just the finish line. That is the best kind of student. One that is teachable and coachable and willing to take risks. He is so fun to watch just because he doesn’t care what it looks like, he’s just being himself and having fun.”
While busy working every passion and activity into his schedule, Crawford strives never to forget about the people who stand by and support all his successes.
“Jalen has been one of my best friends since I can remember,” senior Colin McAllister said. “He is always so genuine and just such a nice human being and just someone that anyone would wanna be around 24/7.”
Despite Crawford’s efforts of being a dedicated basketball player and student, these shared loves will always remain a passion for him. With the support of his family and friends, Crawford will grow to keep both dancing and rapping in his everyday routine.