Denver7 | Sports


From foster care to Division I athlete: CU forward Janea Bunn hopes to inspire others

Posted at 1:00 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 15:03:44-05

BOULDER, Colo. — Imagine growing up and not knowing where you would eat and sleep until you basically reached college. For the Buffaloes' Junior Forward Janea Bunn, that was her reality.

This summer she transferred in from Midland Texas Junior College. Through 17 games Janea is averaging nine points and six rebounds, and is logging significant starting minutes for the lady Buffs.

“Basketball is the only reason why I am in college right now. I am so grateful for what basketball has done for me, “ Bunn said.

Watching from the stands you would never know that this 6-foot-3 outgoing and friendly junior forward from Springfield, Massachusetts didn’t have the easiest childhood.

“There were a lot of kids around my age that would worry about when the next video game would come out. I would worry about, 'When are our bills going to get paid and are we still going to be living in this place? What are we going to eat?'” she said.

In grade school Bunn spent some time in foster care and her family was even homeless at times, so she moved around a lot. Staying with anyone she could, including a high school coach, Erik Maurer, who took her in for a few years and gave her a home.

“I am so grateful for him doing that, him and his family welcomed me in with open arms and accepted me for the holidays. They bought me Christmas presents like I was one of their own kids and I was able to eat meals with them. I also had my own room. They just wanted to make me feel comfortable and just worry about things that normal kids were worrying about,” Bunn said.

Now as a Division I athlete, her basic everyday needs are met. She has found a home in Boulder and an extended hoops family with her coaches and teammates.

“I don’t know how, but I just have a special connection with each player individually and I love them and they’re hilarious. They take my sense of humor and let me be me and it’s just great,” Bunn said.

Giving her the chance to focus on things like playing basketball and just being a college student.

“The stability is definitely a big part of it. I feel like that is pretty important. You know you are going to do basketball every day, you know you are going to go to school and that’s not going to change unless something crazy happens,” she said.

So, as Bunn continues her basketball journey in the shadow of the Flatirons, she mentions she wouldn’t change any of the struggles she’s gone through. Because they've helped shape her into the strong woman that she is on and off the court.

“Even though I’ve had a pretty rough life, that made me tougher. I know looking back on it, I thank my mom, even though she wasn’t able to give me everything she wanted to, I am stronger for having to go through that. Now I feel like I have better manners, better critical thinking skills, so in a way I am thankful for having to go through some of that stuff,” she said.

While Bunn has dreams of playing in the WNBA, she knows she’d like to give back and help those who might be going through a similar situation.

“Being a coach would be one of the better things for me because I can reach back down to those kids and relate to them in a way maybe other people can’t. I just want to mentor them and I just want to help,” Bunn said.