ST. LOUIS (NNPA) – It would not be a stretch to say that Jessie Mapp III was born with a bowling ball in his hands.
Bowling has been a big part of Mapp’s family for four generations. Young Jessie could not help but get involved in the family legacy. He started bowling at the age of one.
“At first, he started rolling apples and oranges around the house,” said Mapp’s father, Jesse Mapp II.
“He was always around the sport. When he started bowling, he never wanted to use the bumpers as a child. He would cry if he had to use the bumpers. He wanted to use the same lanes that the old people used.”
At the age of 12, Jessie Mapp III can now be considered a bowling prodigy. On Feb. 4, he bowled a perfect 300 game at the Gateway Classic Youth Bowling Tournament at the St. Charles Lane. It was quite an achievement for a talented youngster who has not reached his teenage years yet. Although official records are not kept, Mapp III has to be one of the youngest African-American bowlers to achieve a 300 game.
“It was like watching a miracle,” said Jessie Mapp II. “It was unbelievable to watch, especially since I’ve never done it. I had tears in my eyes. I was so proud of him because I know how hard he’s worked.”
Said Mapp III after his performance, “I was astonished…It had been a goal of mine to bowl a 300 game before my father. It was real exciting for all of us.”
A seventh-grade student at Cross Keys Middle School in Florissant, Mapp III is part of a family that enjoys an incredible passion for bowling.
It all started with his great-grandfather John Mapp, who bowled in leagues until he was in his 80s. His son, Jessie Mapp, Sr. picked up the sport and passed it down to his son, Jesse Jr., and two daughters Kendra Mapp Worsham and Kerri Mapp Cunningham. Kerri was a two-sport standout at Pattonville High who earned a bowling scholarship to Missouri Baptist.
Joining Jesse Mapp III in the bowling family are his brothers Lonnelle Washington, 15; Shaun Mapp, 12; and sisters Cassie Williams, 12; and Jaya Mapp 8.
Jessie Mapp keeps all of his children active as director of Youth Leagues at the Crest Bowl in Florissant.
“It’s fun to be part of a family that bowls, because we all kind of help each other,” said Mapp III.
After taking up the sport for the first time, it did not take long for him to establish himself as a top performer. At the age of six, he was featured in the United States Bowling Congress Magazine for bowling a game of 147. He competes in travelling youth leagues in Missouri and Illinois on Sundays. Among his numerous accomplishments are his two Gateway Classic Youth Tournament championships.
When he gets older, Mapp III is pretty clear about his future aspirations. He wants to become a professional bowler.
“I’ve had the dream to become a professional bowler ever since I was six, maybe even before that,” Mapp III. “I also want to bowl in college.”