After suffering a knee injury that ended his collegiate career, Gerrado Jivens would not give up his dream of playing professional basketball. Thanks to a group of family and friends, he worked hard, physically and mentally, and soon after his dreams were a reality.
Milek, as he is known to many, grew up in West Savannah but spent some of his childhood living in Hardeeville, South Carolina.
He spent his freshman and sophomore high school years at Savannah’s Beach High School and his final two years on the southside of town at Windsor Forest High School. He played football and basketball for the Bulldogs but only basketball at Windsor, where local coaching legend Louis Jenkins was the head coach.
After graduating high school, Milek enrolled at Savannah State.
He played intramural basketball his first year. Many of his teammates were a collection local guys who played on their high school basketball teams around town.
That same year, the Savannah State team suffered through another losing season. That prompted Milek to approach the coach for a tryout.
“I decided to walk on because coach John Williams said he would give me a chance to prove myself.”
Milek proved he could play with the college guys and made the team.
But he also had some issues in the classroom where one of his professors didn’t think athletics and academics was a good combination.
“At first, I wanted to do marine biology but I had a professor tell me that they didn’t think I could commit to the demands of the course and the demands that comes with playing basketball.”
On the court, he struggled his first two seasons but during his junior year (1995-96) he led the team in blocks (17) and assists (90). He ended the season averaging 8.6 points, 3.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds a game. When asked what led to his improved play he stated “Each year I tried to improve and mature in life and in sport. I had to work and earn everything I [had] gotten in life. SSU gave men that opportunity to raise my awareness of people and life’s many challenges. It also helped me to learn from failure and develop a resiliency that sticks to me this day.”
Milek played two seasons for Williams at SSU. Williams took a job at Alabama State before the start of the 1995-96 season and the Tigers brought former SSU great Jimmie Westley out of retirement as their head coach. Jenkins served as Westley’s assistant.
Just before the 1996-97 season, the six-foot guard suffered a knee injury and his senior season of basketball was gone.
“My senior year, I tore my ACL. I was devastated and didn’t think I would be able to play competitive basketball anymore. However, I had a strong group of people around me at the time and they helped me get prepared mentally to deal with the amount of work it would take for me to make a comeback to the sport,” says Milek. “Corey McGee, who was a college roommate and teammate of mine my second year at State, told me I should come and play overseas where he was. He also said he would show teams some tapes of me and see who was interested. I said ok and about a month later he had news that there were teams interested. That made me extremely happy. However, they wanted me to pay my own way over and then they would take a look at me and if they liked what they saw then they would reimburse my money. I had three tryouts and received an offer from the Coventry Crusaders,” he went on to add.
Milek, who is the son of Sharon Rivers Bowers and Ronald Jivens, spent over a dozen years playing basketball overseas.
“I played for about 13yrs and coached for about five years. I have won five British basketball championships, one league MVP and three team MVP’s. As far as coaching I have won one U18 championship and two runners up in busa college finals.”
Although his playing days are over, Milek is still involved in the sport as well as using some of the teaching he learned at Savannah State while majoring in sociology.
“At the moment, I still scout players for teams and coach from time to time in both England and Italy. I also run an alternative school in the west London area. It is a school that works on students behavior by the use of counseling skill and therapeutic way of thinking. Most of our students have been expelled from school more than three times.”
Even though he lives overseas, he has ran into some SSU Tigers.
“I have seen a couple of people since I was over here. Corey McGee and Glen who was from London and played for junior team I played for.”
When asked if there was any chance of him moving back to the United States, he replied “I can never say never but I would love to bring over some of the things I have learned over here and apply it to the American way of life. I would like to bring Europe and the states together with ideas of helping people reach their goals.”