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“You’re Gonna Deal With Racism…” – Yankees Legend Derek Jeter Credits Parents for Giving ‘Reality Check’ on Dealing With Prejudice Early in His Career

Published 07/13/2022, 11:15 AM EDT

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Derek Jeter is a baseball player who stood tall and rose up to towering heights in his playing days. His records describe the might of his playing skills. But the path to glory wasn’t always smooth for Jeter. 

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A charismatic baseball legend, Derek Jeter, is an immortal New York Yankees icon. A match-winner in his own right, Jeter could change the course of games head-on. His timeline on the playground was pure sporting theater. Likewise, his life in the social sphere was dramatic. 


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Consistently being in the limelight during his playing days, Derek Jeter‘s life has run parallel to a Hollywood film hero. But reality can be a painful experience that none can escape. Not even a heroic persona like Jeter. In his recent docuseries, he opened up about facing racial abuse in the past. 

Derek Jeter’s struggle against racial prejudice 

Baseball Hall Of Fame inductee, Derek Jeter, was a biracial kid growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This means he is the son of mixed-race parents. Born to Charles Jeter, a black man, and Dorothy Jeter, a white woman, Derek Jeter was often subject to subtle forms of racism. Jeter’s parents fell in love while serving overseas in Germany. 



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Back in the day, communion between people of separate races was treated with disdain. So the relationship between Jeter’s parents drew ire of the American society, after returning to the United States. Therefore, Jeter’s parents tried to shield him from the discrimination meted to them throughout their life. But despite their best efforts, Jeter wasn’t safe from racial insults. 

In his upcoming docuseries titled ‘The Captain’, Derek Jeter has elaborately talked about various Highs and Lows of his life. “Since I was very young, I’d have so many people staring at me,” quoted Jeter about his past. “My parents did a great job of sitting us down and saying, ‘Look you’re gonna get looks, people are going to treat you different, you’re gonna deal with racism, you’re gonna deal with prejudice… but you learn how to deal with it.” 

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Once while leaving a Taco Bell joint in Kalamazoo along with a friend, Derek Jeter was called the N-word by a stranger. “I remember being so hurt by that,” Jeter said of the incident. “I’m so proud I’m back in Kalamazoo, right, finally made it, got drafted. And you’re like man, you know, this is a reality check.” Nonetheless, Jeter’s progress in his baseball career was unperturbed by the adversities, as he turned into a champion of the sport. 


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Derek Jeter’s life as a New Yorker 

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Derek Jeter made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees in the year 1995. The then Yankees manager Buck Showalter, highly appreciated Jeter’s resilient upbringing. Jeter’s parents instilled a strong work ethic and ambitious mentality in him, which reflected on the baseball field.

“I remember how impressed I was with his mom and dad, you know, and knowing the backbone they both had to have in an interracial marriage. There’s so many things that challenge guys in the big leagues and so many things that challenge them in New York City. I felt that Derek had a chance to really not have that be a factor in his life because of his upbringing,” said Showalter in praise of Jeter’s parents. 


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Watch This StoryFrom Babe Ruth To Derek Jeter: New York Yankees Legends Who’s Jersey Number Has Been Retired 

‘The Captain’ premiers on July 18 at ESPN following the Home Run Derby. How many of you are excited to catch up with the Derek Jeter docuseries? Let us know in the comments section below. 



Madhurjya Bhuyan

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Madhurjya Bhuyan is an MLB author at EssentiallySports. He has a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in English Literature from Gauhati University and IGNOU, respectively, and also possesses prior professional experience as a content developer. Being a performance artist since childhood, Madhurjya has always aimed to contribute towards creativity in any possible manner, and writing only boosts that desire.