Born in Louisiana, Jazzy Hartwell got his first real introduction to basketball at Glen Oaks High School in East Baton Rouge. He was a star player for the Panthers, helping that program earn a statewide reputation for excellence, including multiple state titles.
Jazzy held a Division I scholarship offer coming out of high school but instead chose to play basketball for Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas, the oldest historically black college west of the Mississippi River. There, he led the basketball team in 1990 to a 30-7 record and the National Small College Athletic Association Basketball Championship.
Shortly after graduating from college, Jazzy was hired by the Moorland YMCA in Oak Cliff, where he would have a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of young men over the next decade. Many of the more athletically gifted men, such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Darrell Arthur, and Kenyon Martin, would play professionally in the NBA.
Hartwell’s reputation as a coach and leader garnered attractive attention, which led him to the AAU or “select” basketball circuit. In 2005, he met with Sonny Vaccaro and Chris Rivers, industry executives who were with Reebok at the time. That meeting led to the creation of Urban DFW Elite. Years later, after Rivers joined Adidas, a national circuit was created for the teams of premier programs, and Urban DFW Elite was among the first to join.