Catches up With Jerry Hester

Jerry Hester, the swingman on the 1998 Big Ten Championship team, was in Champaign on Sunday to watch his former team play. Read here at to see what Hester is up to these days.

Former Illini Jerry Hester has brought his basketball career to a close. "I'm retired now, after six years in Europe, it's time I stay home and take care of my family." Said Hester. Being gone made things hard on him. Hester is married now with two kids, a daughter Jordyn and a son Jerry Hester. "My son Jerry Hester III will be the next Illini to wear the number #23 for Illinois," Hester said with a smile.

Hester admitted it was tough trying to keep up with Illinois, "Over there, ESPN is not as big as CNN, so if I was to see any Illini coverage they had to be ranked or I would never see anything." Hester said.

Hester now works for Northwestern Mutual as a Financial Rep, "Business is good, my first client is a former teammate Kiwane Garris, and I had to start with my boys you know." Hester said. Keeping in touch with his friends is something he will always do. "I talk to Brian Johnson, Kiwane, Kevin Turner and Jerrod Gee all the time, we're a close group of guys," stressed Hester.

Peoria is where things all started for Hester, but now he's living is Park Forest, Illinois. There he hopes to see more Illini games and work with his kids so they can be successful in life and basketball. "Playing basketball for Illinois was great, the fans here know their basketball and they love it. Now I'm back in the States I will come to more games, I think it's good for the current players to see guys like me and Steve Bardo around the program." Hester said.

"Being here on campus brings back a lot of memories, a lot of good times. Kiwane and I were roommates so we made college fun." Hester said. Hester said of this current Illini team, they are very deep and really play well together, which is what you will need to make a long run the NCAA tournament.

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