Shaped by Sports: The McClelland Family Legacy


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — Starting guard Cainan McClelland is making a major impact on the Jackson State men’s basketball team this season.

The graduate transfer from Texas Southern is averaging 3.9 points per game, shooting 42 percent in the paint.

McClelland said he came to Jackson State for a fresh start after a coaching change at Texas Southern.

And it was grandfather who, in part, made that decision easier.

“Every summer, I came [to Jackson] to visit my granddaddy, me and little brother,” McClelland said. “We went fishing and all of that. Jackson is just, I love Jackson. It’s like my second home honestly.”

“I felt like I owed it to him to play here and for him to see my play in his final years.”

Someone else who gets to see him play, his father, Charles, who happens to be the SWAC Commissioner.

“Playing at Jackson State, especially in the mid 80’s to late 80’s was just as prestigious as getting a scholarship to Ole Miss, getting a scholarship to Mississippi State or USM. So, I wanted to play here, didn’t get the opportunity,” Dr. McClelland said. “Never thought my career would lead me to athletics and to fast forward 30 years and to have my son playing on this Jackson State team, me leaving Houston going to Birmingham where I can go back and forth to see him play, honestly is a dream come true.”

Commissioner McClelland was a single father to his two sons for much of their childhood. He said it was athletics that helped them make it through tough times.

“It was a difficult standpoint from raising two males, but at the same time I cannot image how I would be or how they would be if it wasn’t for the world of athletics,” said Dr. McClelland. “Athletics balanced them, it balanced me. It allowed us to take everything into perspective and when there were tough times, we got a chance to go to a football game or a basketball game.”

“My dad did it all growing up, being a single father,” McClelland said. “He always took me to AAU practice, always rebounded for me outside, always gave me confidence, motivated me. He was my coach for a little bit. So, my dad is really my superhero.”

Today, the Commissioner drives three hours to Jackson, some times twice a week, to see his son suit up for the Tigers.

“Being in Birmingham, 3 hours, I think that’s the least that I can do,” Dr. McClelland. “But I don’t know if it’s a much for Cainan as it is for me. Every dad wants to see their son play.”

“I go upstairs with Vice President [Ashley] Robinson, I don’t want to show any bias … As a father I had to learn how to accept the fact that yelling wasn’t productive for my son, get your behind upstairs and watch and enjoy.”

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