Photo Credits: NIL Media, Post by: DeSean Jackson Foundation
Byron Jackson, Darrick Davis, DeSean Jackson, Gary Cablayan, Gayle Jackson, Irving Booker, John Ross, Long Beach, Long Beach Poly Tech, NFL, NFL Players Giving Back, Philadelphia Eagles, Samie Parker, Stephen Barbee, Terance Austin, Travis Clark, Travon Patterson
DeSean Jackson Hosts Free Football Camp In Long Beach
As usual, Long Beach was host to an NFL player putting on a free summer football camp for local youth last weekend. That’s become regular in Long Beach, where the kids have had plenty of opportunity to hear from local guys made good over the past several years. What was unusual was the NFLer at the center of the hundreds of eager young campers: Long Beach Poly alum DeSean Jackson, of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The camp at Veterans Memorial Stadium was the first free offering Jackson has put on in Long Beach, and he said it was an emotional homecoming for him putting the event on at Vets.
“It’s always a pleasure to be back in Long Beach where I started my career and legacy,” he said. “A lot of familiar faces come out and support, guys I played with, coaches. It’s really an honor to have them here, you don’t get to see all of them a lot.”
Jackson has put on several camps over the years, but not in the city where he first made his name.
“I’ve always taken pride in putting on events like this to have the people who helped me get to this point in my career give these kids the principles that made me who I am,” said Jackson. “I want to give back to these kids out here today, it’s a blessing to have the opportunity to put this camp on. These kids area huge inspiration to me in my life on a daily basis.”
Poly coach Stephen Barbee was on hand as a volunteer, and was happy to see Jackson inspiring the local kids. Barbee also pointed out that Jackson showed up to the Edison Battle at the Beach the previous weekend to cheer on Poly as the young Jackrabbits made a semifinal run before falling to Mater Dei in a single-possession game.
“DeSean Jackson is such a great representative of our team, and it means a lot to them to see him support them,” said Barbee.
“Long Beach Poly has a special place in my heart going back to 2001 as a young kid,” said Jackson. “I just want to motivate the guys and support them any way possible, Long Beach Poly is the home of the greats–I want them to know I see them and we’re all cheering for them.”
There’s been plenty for Poly fans to cheer about when it comes to Jackson. He’s often repped his high school more publicly than his college, sometimes saying “DeSean Jackson, Long Beach Poly” during television introductions instead of shouting out Cal, where he played NCAA ball. Jackson is back with the Eagles this season as he enters his 12th season in the NFL, a decorated career that’s seen him haul in 589 passes for over 10,000 yards, as well as three Pro Bowl honors. Jackson now stands at No. 45 all-time in the NFL in terms of receiving yards and is fifth in receiving yards by current players.
Barbee wasn’t the only local volunteer to work the camp with Jackson–the sidelines were stuffed with familiar faces including current Poly players and recent alums. Fellow Poly to the NFLers like Terrance Austin, Samie Parker, and Travon Patterson served as volunteers, as did Jackson’s speed trainer Gary Cablayan, who also works with John Ross.
Gayle Jackson, President and Co-Founder, of the DeSean Jackson Foundation, stressed the importance of having this inaugural event in Long Beach in regards to her late husband’s legacy; and, Long Beach is where Bill’s vision for transitioning the youth in South Central L.A. beyond their borders through sports began.
We are privileged to have the resources, donors and community partners to provide a free camp for 350 youth, from extremely diverse segments of Los Angeles County. We are also honored to have a $1,500.00 grant from the NFL Foundation to help defray some of the costs of associated with the planning and execution of a monumental event of this magnitude.
For More Photos from the Event: The 562.0rg, and photographer, William Johnson, provided the following media coverage. https://www.the562.org/2019/07/11/photos-desean-jackson-football-camp-in-long-beach/
Through the Player Foundation Grant program, the NFL Foundation recognizes and supports the charitable work of current and former NFL players’ non-profit organizations that either fund and implement programs; or function as grant-making foundations to other charitable organizations. www.nflfoundation.org
I had an opportunity to speak with Gayle Jackson, DeSean Jackson’s mother, after a private screening of the documentary “The Making of a Father’s Dream,” which was released on Father’s Day. How did it feel to relive such emotional moments in her family’s history, and for the world to be see such a different side of her NFL star son?
The film is the product of 18 years of footage taken by Byron Jackson, DeSean’s older brother, from when DeSean was just five years old through his time in the NFL. Byron joined up with Kip (producer) and Kern (director) Konwiser to shape the footage into the compelling story presented in “A Father’s Dream.” But in addition to their collective talents, Mrs. Jackson believes that a higher power had a hand in bringing the film to life.
Even while his father, Bill Jackson, was dying, Byron said in the film, he was compelled to keep taking footage, though he didn’t know why. It was a sort of therapy to help him come to terms with the quick and fatal reality that was the pancreatic cancer that ultimately took his father’s life. Ultimately, the family was too close to the story to see the powerful messages contained in the footage. Said Gayle of the years of footage and how she reacted when presented with the idea of the documentary,
“God puts you in touch with who you need. I say it was spiritual. He [Byron] got put in touch with Kip and Kern [Konwiser], and they were able to take what Byron had and put it in such a way to present this story. There was a void of positive black role models, all these guys [in Team Jackson] didn’t have fathers in their lives and Bill was the father figure. It all got put together in to what you see [in the film], and it’s a message now. It’s bigger than you can ever imagine.”
The very fact that the tidbits of their lives came together to form such a cohesive, powerful story—about a father’s love for his family and a shared passion to fulfill a dream—was more than just the talent of the filmmakers, in Mrs. Jackson’s mind.
“Sometimes you don’t always know what you want to do with your life, but, if you have faith and believe and line yourself up and do what God says you’re supposed to do, then he’ll order your steps. I really believe that this project was almost predestined. Somehow, it’s like Bill knew. He’s not here anymore so he made all of these predictions. We thought he was crazy. We thought he was out of his mind. We didn’t know but he knew. It took his passing to figure it out.”
In telling its compelling tale, the film shows another side of DeSean Jackson than we’ve seen previously. Any good documentary explores and uncovers different sides of its subjects, and “A Father’s Dream” is no different. But what does it feel like to see her son exposed in such a different light, contrary to what many perceive of the confident NFL star?
I think it will clear up some of those misconceptions…When I hear those comments, I think, We know the truth. A lot of those things that people say, like he’s cocky, he’s this, he’s that—they don’t know the real DeSean. And if you knew the real DeSean you wouldn’t say those things. So I have to kind of dismiss it, turn my ear to it and turn a blind eye to it, because we know the truth. This kid has the biggest heart. If he could help everyone in the whole wide world he would do it.
“The Making of a Father’s Dream” is now available and can be seen on inDemand, Comcast, Verizon Fios, and other cable systems around the country. Please check your local listings for details.
– Brandyn Campbell, Editor, Sports Muse
Follow Philly Sports Muse on Twitter at @sports_muse and on Facebook
Posted by Tim McManus on May 15, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Reprinted by The DeSean Jackson Foundation, on May 16, 2013
DeSean Jackson‘s relationship with Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles got off on the wrong foot.
The receiver and his family were already in the midst of a stressful day. Their draft party back in April of 2008 turned tense as the projected first-rounder slipped and slipped…until finally he was taken 49th by the Eagles. The celebration that ensued was quickly dampened following Jackson’s call with his new head coach.
“Hey, I just want to say one thing,” said Jackson, calling together his inner circle. “I was on the phone with Andy Reid. He said, ‘I don’t want your family to be a problem. I don’t want to deal with your dad.’ He said some bad things. I just wanted to let you know. That’s kind of messed up, though.”
That is one of the many nuggets stored in a fascinating 104-minute documentary titled “DeSean Jackson, The Making Of A Father’s Dream” which chronicles Jackson’s journey from Pop Warner to the pros. His older brother, Byron Jackson, began filming DeSean when he was about nine years old, and kept the camera rolling for more than 18 years.
Not a second of that time went by when DeSean wasn’t being groomed for the NFL.
DeSean’s father, the late Bill Jackson, was determined to have his sons make it to the pros. Byron briefly achieved that goal, spending two years on the Chiefs’ practice squad, but was eventually cut. He bounced around to the Canadian and World League but was ready to move onto a career in film-making. Bill was not ready for the ride to end. Wills collided, there was an incident, and the two didn’t speak for two years.
DeSean’s undeniable ability helped bring them back together, and they joined forces with several of Byron’s good friends — men that also came just shy of athletic excellence — to create a professional athlete. They set up a blueprint and gave him a strict training regimen. Had him working with a speed coach before he was even in high school.
Bill Jackson tells a story in the film about how he would even get his sister’s poodle into the training process. He used to tie a tennis ball to a rope, and that rope around DeSean’s waist. Every time the dog got the tennis ball, DeSean had to give him 15 pushups.
“I never gave him time off. People used to say, ‘Why are you doing him like that. You’re trying to kill him.’ Because he had so much energy, he would be running the streets.”
With all that manpower dedicated to a common goal, DeSean was able to maximize the immense amount of natural talent that just oozed out of him. That singular focus of developing an NFL player also created some problems. Cal head coach Jeff Tedford worried that team goals were taking a back seat to the individual pursuit of making it to the show. And Bill Jackson was so determined to make that dream a reality, that he at times took his advocacy for his son’s cause too far.
“While I understood what Bill’s motives were he didn’t always go about it the right way,” said Tedford. “As far as alienating people or really being loud outside of the locker room and things like that. If DeSean only caught a couple balls in the game, he wanted him to catch 10. He was driven for DeSean to be successful.”
Bill could be a handful (Reid obviously had heard as much) but it’s clear that it came from a good place. And ultimately, his plan worked.
He watched from a hospital bed as the Eagles beat the Giants in the Divisional Round to advance to the NFC Championship in DeSean’s rookie year. His son had four grabs for 81 yards in that game. Earlier that day, Bill had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That was January 11, 2009. He passed away May 14 of that year.
The next season DeSean broke out, posting over 1,100 receiving yards and racking up 12 touchdowns in all. There is a scene in the film where Byron and DeSean are waiting nervously to get word on whether he had been selected to the Pro Bowl. The call came from Reid. This time around, the coach’s words sent Jackson barreling down the steps and into his brother’s arms.
After the initial celebration, DeSean turns to the camera and says, “Pops man, I love you. You knew.”
The Pro Bowl was played on what would have been Bill’s 65th birthday. DeSean led the NFC with 101 yards and two touchdowns.
“At the end of the day,” said Byron, “my dad only wanted what was best for DeSean and all of his kids.”
The documentary is being released right around Father’s Day. It will be available on iN Demand beginning on June 7.
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