Lakeside graduate heads to Mexico for hoops

Lakeside graduate Emilio Parks plays for the Gulf Coast Lions earlier this year. He is now in Chihuahua, Mexico, where he will be playing professional basketball this fall.

Emilio Parks hasn’t let a little pandemic get in the way of his professional basketball career.

Parks, a 2010 graduate of Lakeside High School who played his college basketball in suburban Charlotte, was last seen playing professional basketball in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In March 2020, the U.S. government ordered Americans home and Parks left Indonesia, where the COVID-19 numbers were not high, for the United States, where they were escalating significantly.

Parks said he came home with mixed feelings because he wasn’t able to see friends because of the lockdown and people’s concerns over the virus.

Parks has played professional basketball in Asia, Europe and South America after scoring more than 1,000 points at Lakeside and more than 1,000 points at Johnson C. Smith University.

His next destination is Mexico, where he will play in a 16-team league starting in late September. He will be playing for Chihuahua.

“It is not going to be a bubble so we will have home and away games,” Parks said. He said there are six-team regions that will play among themselves and then add in several other teams to get to a 30-game season.

Parks has been able to see a lot of the world while getting paid to play basketball. He said the traffic in Indonesia was the worst he has ever seen with the roads dominated by bicycles and motor bikes.

He said Indonesia was a peaceful country.

Parks said it took about eight months to get access to a gymnasium on a regular basis so he wasn’t able to stay sharp for quite awhile. He was able to catch on with The Basketball League in Sarasota, Florida, in January and has been on the road back ever since.

Many leagues shut down due to the pandemic.

Parks is excited to hook on for a two-month league as he has just turned 30.

“If I impress the owner, they will try to get me connected with the bigger [Mexican] league,” he said.

Parks said it is a blessing to still be playing basketball for money at his age.

“It’s a blessing. I wake up with aches and pains,” he said.

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