Column: Cathedral’s Xavier Jordan blocks out the distractions on path to success

Junior receiver Xavier Jordan of L.A. Cathedral poses for a photo in the locker room.
Junior receiver Xavier Jordan of L.A. Cathedral.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Lying in bed at night, Xavier Jordan hears gunshots, sirens and helicopters so often that it’s no longer an obstacle to falling asleep.

“I got used to them,” he said.

Jordan lives in a housing project at Holmes and 51st streets in South Los Angeles with his mother and five younger siblings.

“I can’t even come outside most times because my mom is paranoid,” he said.

L.A. Cathedral High has become his sanctuary and the football field his playground.

“I can be 16,” he said.

At 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds, with speed, athleticism and strong hands, Jordan is a junior wide receiver with dreams and aspirations to build a future of unlimited possibilities.


“I just think if I keep doing what I’m doing, in the next 10 years, I won’t be living where I am living now,” he said. “Don’t get distracted by anything.”

Jordan attended Carson as a freshman, then enrolled at Cathedral as a sophomore. The adjustment wasn’t easy. His grades and focus had to change. It finally began to register that his responsibilities as the oldest of siblings ages 14, 13, 8, 5 and 2 had to take precedence.

“I started to carry myself as a whole different person,” he said. “I am way different than I was last year. I know the responsibility I have is not a 16-year-old. I had to mature really fast.”

His grades have gone up and he insists he’s going to get all A’s in his classes this semester, from Chemistry to Algebra 2. His Spanish grade was a D last year. It’s now an A.

Jordan is using high school experiences the way they should be used — to learn. Sometimes they’re good experiences, sometimes not. It’s how you respond that separates individuals.

In a football game against Gardena Serra this season, he caught three passes for nearly 100 yards but dropped several passes. He blamed mistakes on a lack of focus because he was so pumped to do well against friends who used to be youth teammates that he placed too much emphasis on himself to deliver.

“I let the adversity get to me,” he said. “It was a big game and I was mentally not there. So many people came and I put all that responsibility on me.”

The lesson learned was that “everyone is the same. I let people get to me. I overthought.”

His best game this season was on Friday night when he caught 13 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns against La Canada St. Francis.


“He’s elite,” St. Francis coach Dean Herrington said.

On the season, Jordan has 46 receptions for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Quarterback Aidan Moss said, “I feel he’s a game changer. Nobody can really guard him. I think he’ll be playing on Sundays.”

Coach Anthony Jefferson called Jordan “a freakishly good athlete.”

Last spring, Cathedral was in a track meet against Serra, so Jordan was recruited to participate in the long jump. With little practice and no experience, he went more than 21 feet. He’ll join the track team this spring to explore his long jump potential.

Playing receiver intrigues him.

“I like the spectacular catches and the responsibilities,” he said. “If you’re a receiver, it’s harder to be a receiver than a running back because you have to learn who you are going against, how to get open, how to run your routes.”

There will be many challenges ahead for Jordan, but he understands the potential rewards for staying focused offer motivation every day. He’s committed to making it through the ups and downs of teenage life.

“I’m going to do everything I can to do it,” he said, showing off a smile with braces on his teeth in full view.