Over the last two years, Lamar Jackson has risen from the ranks of backup quarterback to MVP favorite. But he didn’t get there without struggles along the way. Most people don’t know about the tragic situation that left Jackon’s mother, Felicia Jones, to raise her family on her own.
Learning where Lamar Jackson comes from helps people understand exactly what drives him to be one of the best players in the NFL.
Lamar Jackson’s early tragedy
According to The Baltimore Sun, Jackson was a daddy’s boy for the first eight years of his life. His father first played football with Jackson and his siblings in the yard. Unfortunately, in 2005, the future NFL player’s father collapsed dead of a heart attack. Shockingly, Jackson’s grandmother passed away on the same day.
Jackson claims he was too young to have vivid memories of his father. But the sudden death of his 31-year-old father helped strengthen the bond he has with his mother. Her mother had to fill two types of shoes, and she wasted no time doing so. She fed her family, raised them, and when it came to football, she became a coach, too.
Living in what they refer to as a “squat apartment,” the Jackson family had to make do with what they had. And Jones did what she could to make sure this did not hold Jackson back from his dreams.
Jackson’s mom, aka Coach Peanut
From the moment of his father’s death, Jackson has relied on his mom, whom he calls Coach Peanut, to guide him through life. She began to serve as his coach and made sure he and his siblings stayed at the top of their games.
From an early age, Jackson’s speed made people wonder if he’d be better as a wide receiver or a defensive back. It was his mom, however, who first insisted that Jackson stay at his position. In The Players’ Tribune, Jackson wrote about how meaningful his mother was to his football career:
“A lot of people helped me get better when I was young, but the best coach I’ve ever had was also my first one: Mom. And I’m not saying that just because she looked out for me and encouraged me to pursue football and all that stuff. I mean she actually made me grind to get better.”
With so much pressure to succeed not only from himself but his mother, Jackson’s rise to NFL stardom makes sense. She didn’t force him to play football. When she knew it was his passion, however, she did everything in her power to ensure Jackson would make it.
Making a superstar out of Jackson
Jackson’s manager, Joshua Harris, told The Baltimore Sun about the codependent relationship the two have. “They are each other’s crutches,” Harris said. “I don’t want to say it’s in a negative way, but it’s us against the world … And they’re cautious about who they let in their circle.”
Jones has taken a behind-the-scenes approach. Although she and Jackson’s siblings still live with him, she does not dictate his career the way the NBA’s Lavar Ball does. She will give interviews or demand the team to bend to her will, opting to be a support system for her son instead.
Jackson’s life could’ve taken a more tragic turn when he lost his father and grandmother. Thankfully, both his mother and mindset made sure this didn’t happen. As a result, his rise may not be as unlikely as people say it is, but an inevitable outcome after years of hard work and sacrifice.
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