Former BYU Basketball Player Celebrates Passing American Citizenship Test

Feb 8, 2023, 1:42 PM | Updated: 3:18 pm
BYU Basketball, Jonathan Tavernari...
Former BYU basketball standout Jonathan Tavernari is close to becoming an American citizen. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)
(Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Former BYU basketball standout Jonathan Tavernari needs no introduction to Cougar Nation. His accomplishments, such as Mountain West Conference Sixth Man of the Year, and three-time MWC Champion, are well-documented.

But if he crosses paths with Cougar fans in the future, he can proudly say he’s an American citizen.

Tavernari, known as the “Brazilian Bomber” during his days at BYU for his three-point shooting ability, shared on social media that he passed his American citizenship test. Putting him one step closer to being a U.S. citizen.

“Passed my naturalization/citizenship test & have my oath ceremony in 2 weeks,” exclaimed Tavernari on Twitter. “America has been SO good to me! I love this country! Can’t wait to be able to say I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! THE AMERICAN DREAM IS ALIVE & WELL!”

Tavernari grew up in Sao Bernardo, Brazil, where his mother, Thelma Tavernari, a legendary basketball presence in Brazil, coached him.

He moved to Utah to prep at Timpview High School but then concluded his prep career at Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High. During his high school days, he was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a newly converted member of the Church, Tavernari signed with BYU putting together an impressive four-year career at BYU from 2006-2010.

“Ever since I was a little kid I would watch movies and dream about the American Dream,” Tavernari said to KSL Sports. “I immigrated here alone when I was 16. My parents’ sacrificed so much for me, I have world’s greatest mom and dad. I am grateful for basketball: without the game, I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had in this country, especially in Utah. A lot of gratitude in my heart today. From God to my parents, my wife and kids, family, friends and the institutions I have been a part of.”

Tavernari added to BYU’s Brazilian pipeline in the mid-2000s when Walter Roese was a former assistant coach. The pipeline of players from Brazil included former NBA lottery pick Rafael Araujo and guard Luiz Lemes.

Tavernari was a team captain for BYU in 2009 and was part of the Cougar squad in 2010 that ended the school’s long NCAA Tournament drought with a double-overtime win over Florida.

After his playing days at BYU concluded, Tavernari had a decade-long professional career overseas. Which also included being a member of the Brazilian national team.

Tavernari finished his BYU career as the 17th all-time leading scorer in program history with 1,519 points.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch and his BYU basketball coverage on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Former BYU Basketball Player Celebrates Passing American Citizenship Test