Most know JB Gill as a singer from the multimillion album-selling group JLS. Yet, little do many fans know that he originally had a very different career in mind, until a tragic accident blocked his path.
[There was] disappointment at not being a rugby player
Mum Cynthia Gill, who is currently fronting the Talking Futures campaign to encourage parents to have career discussions more frequently with their children, told Express.co.uk all about her son’s downfall – and then monumental success.
“Rugby was the main sport in winter [in his secondary school] and he took to that like a duck to water,” she recalled proudly.
He then joined pro rugby club London Irish and, according to Cynthia, “was on a trajectory to playing professionally”.
The talented sporting star, who had spent the first five years of his life in Antigua before moving to the UK, had been “very focused on entering competitions”.
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“The rugby team actually went on tour to different countries,” Cynthia continued.
It was during one of the away games in Europe that her son was tackled by another player and suffered horrifying damage to his ankle.
“It was an injury that practically affected his mobility,” she recalled.
“I think the way that sport is now, an injury like that wouldn’t necessarily stop you, but at the time it did sort of slow him down and he was never quite the same [afterwards].
“I don’t know if he didn’t trust his ankle as much [but] although he continued to play for school, he felt like going into professional rugby wasn’t going to be the avenue for him any longer,” the 62-year-old explained.
“He was laid up for a while, he was well-bandaged and using something to help him walk for a period of time.
“It was quite a bad injury, so I think it made him sit down and rethink ‘What is it that I want to do and what else can I do?'”
That was when Cynthia’s pep talks came in, as she helped him address what could replace rugby as the main career focus in his life.
“We sat down one day and were talking and he said he wanted to sing, so could he take singing lessons?” she recalled.
That, of course, would be the first step towards a glittering career, during which he sold over ten million records with JLS.
His singing tutor was approached at an X Factor auditions show by someone looking for candidates to join a boy band – and she immediately thought of JB.
When he went along, he was introduced to three others – Marvin Humes, Oritse Williams and Aston Merrygold – and finally the JLS lineup was complete.
“They started meeting regularly and they were rehearsing songs and stuff like that, even though they had no management, nothing!” Cynthia exclaimed.
“At this point he wasn’t going to do sport anymore – in the back of his head, what he really enjoys doing is his music.”
“[There was] disappointment at not being a rugby player, which is what he thought originally he was going to do, but [he could] switch to something else that he enjoyed equally,” she confirmed.
Cynthia helped her son transition through this process with regular pep talks and she is now campaigning for Talking Futures, to encourage other parents to make the same positive difference in their children’s lives.
Parents and educators can find out more and access free resources by visiting the Talking Futures website at: https://www.talkingfutures.org.uk/
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