When five-star guard Jalen Green walks around his house, he’s trailed closely by a dog.
He’s had this dog — Twilight — for its entire life. Green was there when his mom, Bree Purganan, delivered it from the mother, Bella.
“I remember this like it’s yesterday – (Bella) was underneath the table and I was looking for her all day, I could not find her,” Green said. “She was just laying there, so I go to pet her and she was, like, growling, and went to bite me.
“I was like, ‘Yo, Mom, why is she tripping?’”
His mom, a nurse, recognized that Bella was pregnant. It wasn’t completely out of her element.
“It was different — delivering a dog (compared) to a baby — I mean, it’s kind of the same concept, but you’re like, ‘Okay, what do I expect from a dog?’” Purganan said.
Green: “I didn’t see that part.”
“I come to find out a couple hours later, puppies are just sitting there. Like, just laying down, on the little bed under the table,” Green said. “I didn’t even know Bella was pregnant.”
And thus the small toy poodle Twilight came into the life of Green, who stands 6-foot-6 and might still be growing.
More than seven years after the birth, the dog that comes up to his shin – or his knee, when Twilight is standing on two legs – sleeps with him, eats with him, and, when Green is chilling, “He’s chilling with me.”
The relationship between the two has given Green a purpose for a second career path, in addition to his plans of professional basketball.
He wants to be a veterinarian.
Green has been surrounded by animals his entire life. He grew up in the countryside on the outskirts of Livingston, Calif., surrounded by animals including horses, pigs, rabbits, goats and llamas.
This isn’t some sort of backup or fallback plan. The goal of becoming a veterinarian is playing a role in the San Joaquin Memorial High School student’s recruiting process.
“Honestly, I’m not really looking at no culture, I’m not looking at the people around there – I mean, yeah, I’m looking at the people around there just to see how they act, but I’m looking for my accesses to the gym, you know, schoolwise, what I’m going to be able to do, because I want to be a vet,” Green said.
“I look how I can come back and finish school.”
Purganan said she’s not surprised that education is a priority to her son. She tried to ingrain that philosophy into him early on.
“You need an education. I don’t want him walking around not educated,” she said. “I want to instill in him that that’s most important.”
As for performing medical work while helping animals, that goes with Green’s nature and upbringing.
Purganan shows Green photos of work she goes through as a nurse. Some are grotesque, including surgery wounds, but he’s not put off by the blood or scars.
“He’s the only one that will look at it when I am. Like, ‘Jay, look,’ he’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Purganan said. “Surgeries, things like that, it doesn’t bother him at all.”
Green enjoys helping people too, his mother said.
“He’s really helpful. He’s just one of those kids that will just go help you if you need help,” Purganan said. “He’ll see someone with an animal, he’ll go right away. That’s just the type of kid he is.”
Green has been offered by 18 schools, but none are particularly known for veterinary studies. The only school of that group that appears in rankings of veterinary programs is Oklahoma State, which was in the mid-20s in U.S. News’ 2015 ranking and TFE Times’ 2017.
But his aim to be a vet and the descriptors Purganan uses to describe him are apparent by his affection shown for Twilight.
“It’s just love, we got a little bond – a great bond, actually,” Green said. “…That’s my guy, my little pup right there.”