Post by: Joie Adams, DeSean Jackson Foundation, 7/29/2021
Prior to reporting to the 2021 Los Angeles Rams’ training camp, NFL All-Pro, wide receiver, and Long Beach Poly alum, DeSean Jackson, stopped by Poly Tech to commend Coach Stephen Barbee for 28 years of impacting the lives of his Poly teams; and, to surprise the football team with cleats and a shopping spree to Champs.
Desean states that he most definitely had to check on the Poly Jackrabbits before he reported to the LA Rams’ training camp for this his 14th year, in the NFL. He often “rolled up” on the Jackrabbits unannounced over the years to inspire, motivate and the Jackrabbits. It is important for them to know he has a vested interest in their team and individual successes. “I made it out and I want them to make it out”, he says.
Several starters of the Poly Jackrabbits lost fathers, mothers, grandparents or friends before the season started; all of their lives were disrupted financially, academically and psychologically due to the Corona-Virus and, many of their families are unfamiliar or confused about the impact the California, Fair Play to Pay Act, will have on eradicating generational poverty, developing economic parity and strengthening families.
“Knowledge is Power”, states DeSean, ” I had Bill and Gayle Jackson educating themselves on the system, protecting me and helping me. I want to instill the importance and value of education as a tool for them to be the architects of their own destiny. I want them to maximize their potential to control and be successful in all aspects of their lives”.
Therefore, it was imperative for DeSean to “pop up” on the Poly Jackrabbits before he reported to LA Rams’ training camp.
Media and Photo Credits:
Permission granted by ABC7/KABC,, “In the Community”, Laurie A. Bossi
Stephen S. Barbee, Head Coach, Long Beach, Poly Tech
Gayle Jackson, President, DeSean Jackson Foundation
For new Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson, his Los Angeles homecoming is bigger than football.
Yes, he gets a chance to potentially close out his career winning a Super Bowl in the Rams’ home stadium, in his hometown. But he is also afforded an opportunity to be closer to the community he was raised in, and by extension more hands-on as he continues to give back to it.
“For me, Los Angeles, California – being born and raised here in L.A., man, this is very personal for me,” Jackson said during his introductory video conference last Friday. “I felt like being able to have that upbringing and background from me being able to be raised here when I go all across the world, it’s like a demeanor you carry yourself with, it’s a swag you have. So, for me to be back here in L.A., man, I know the inner city very well. I come from that, and I just want to reach back and help pull people out.
Jackson has long maintained a connection to his West Coast roots even as the first 13 years of his professional professional football career kept him on the opposite side of the country.
He grew up in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles before attending Long Beach Polytechnic High School, but still gives back to both communities.
Last December, he teamed up with Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis, Titans linebacker Jayon Brown and former Patriots and Browns linebacker Willie McGinest – all of whom are also Long Beach Poly alumni – to donate $50,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach. When the Cali Bears Youth Football Team – founded in 2018 and serving disadvantaged, inner-city youth in South Central Los Angeles – needed funding to save their 2019 season, Jackson stepped up with a $30,000 donation to cover uniforms, equipment, referees and venue fees to make it possible.
Jackson also hosted a youth football camp in Los Angeles in 2014 with the Crenshaw Colts, a local youth Pop Warner football league; and, held an inaugural DeSean Jackson Foundation youth FAST Camp, of elite performance skills, for 250 youth in Long Beach in 2019.
“The poverty, the slums, where we’re stuck at, we don’t really have the opportunity to get out of there and go see things different,” Jackson said. “So for me, I’m continuously in those areas to just help kind of change the mentality, from how we were raised and what we grew up doing, just to really be on some positivity going out and helping kids stay in school, stay off the streets, stay away from drugs and just really create platforms and opportunities for these young kids that have somebody to kind of lean on when they feel like they’re down and out and they don’t have no one to listen to or to get answers from. That’s kind of what I see myself bringing here to the city, is something I’ve already really been doing.”
Regardless of what those initiatives look like, Jackson ultimately wants to set an example for Los Angeles youth that their hard work can be rewarded, knowing how much of an impression it made on him at a young age through his older brother.
“Just to be able to have them know I’m here, to really give these kids the opportunity to come to training camp, to come watch us play and really see how it’s done,” Jackson said. “Because at a young age, my older brother, Byron (Jackson) played for the Kansas City Chiefs and he actually had a great relationship with (former head coach) Dick Vermeil. I can remember I was like nine years old, he took me to a training camp in Wisconsin and as a young kid to be able to see what it takes, how hard they work from really being in training camp in dorm rooms to waking up early in the morning, to having a full day where it’s nothing else but waking up in the morning, to eating breakfast, to going to meetings, to practice, to taking a lunch break, then going back to meetings, going back to practice, just being able to see that as a young kid speaks volumes. So, for me, I just want to be able to show these kids the hard work it takes.
“… I’m just excited to be able to show these kids what it takes. For me being who I am and the stature, like I say, I really think they’re able to like see and like, ‘Dang, like if he can make it, it gives me possibilities of hopes that they can make it.”