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This season, Lamar Jackson has taken the NFL by storm. With each passing week, the Ravens’ quarterback posts another massive performance; at this point, Baltimore is cruising towards the playoffs, and Jackson seems like a lock for the NFL MVP award. But no one finds success on their own.

While every NFL player has an entire support staff helping them on a daily basis, Lamar Jackson has someone special in his corner: his family.

How Lamar Jackson’s mom shaped his football career

These days, Lamar Jackson is a dynamic quarterback who’s capable of making a play with his arm or his legs. He wouldn’t have made it to the pros, however, without his mom, Felecia Jones.

During his childhood, Jackson would go for runs and practice football drills with his mom and younger brother. While those activities might have seemed like simple mother-son bonding sessions, they laid the groundwork for the Lamar Jackson we see today. “She knew what she was doing. She had a vision for my football career even before I did,” Jackson wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “She probably had recognized my natural talent for the sport.”

When college recruiters started showing up, they had to make their case to both Lamar and Jones. “I would look at her, and she was kind of looking straight through me,” said Lamar Thomas, who was a Louisville assistant coach at the time explained to the Courier-Journal. “I was like, ‘OK, she’s trying to look me off. She’s trying to see if I’m in it for the long haul.’”

“When we sat down,” Thomas continued, “she said, ‘I just want to know one thing, Coach. Is my son going to have an opportunity to play quarterback and compete for the starting job?” Louisville gave Jackson that chance, and the rest is history.

A special draft-day message

When Jackson was working out with his mother, they weren’t alone in the backyard. Lamar’s brother Jamar joined in, too; unsurprisingly, he was excited to see Lamar get his chance in the pros.

On the night of the 2018 NFL draft, Lamar Jackson received a special message from his brother. “When we were younger, I always knew you were special,” Jamar said in a video. “We always played, we always fought but, ever since we were younger, to high school playing with each other, I always loved you. You make my life special.”

“I wouldn’t know what to do without you,” Jamar continued. “When you’re away from me, I just always want to talk to you. 2005 our life changed [when the boys’ father and grandmother passed away on the same day], and you made our life special. I’ll never forget how we always played in the room, played outside, youth football, to now in the NFL; you’re going to be one of the best players. I feel one of the best players ever, and I could see you being a Hall of Famer one day.

Lamar Jackson says thank you

Even after making it to the pros, Lamar Jackson didn’t forget where he came from. In fact, he made sure to give back to the people who made him special; soon after landing with the Ravens, he explained that he was happy to get paid so that he could “buy his parents a home.” The will probably be many more gifts on the horizon, though.

This season, Jackson has burst onto the scene as an NFL starter; assuming that he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks—and, in turn, one of the most highly paid—in the league for years to come. The perks that accompany that status will be nice, but, above all else, he’ll be making his family proud.