Family and Football: Parents of J.C. Jackson
Photo Credit: The Jackson Family
On a hill at New England Patriots Training Camp sits some pretty special company.
Family that is — Among the families and friends of players is a group bigger than the rest.
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson’s mother Lisa Dasher and father Christopher Jackson knew their son had a special talent before he was even a teenager.
“It was between five and six years old during pop warner,” Lisa said. “The first time they handed him the ball, he scored a touchdown and I said that day, ‘My son is going to play for the Florida Gators.'”
Christopher said that Jackson was incredibly skilled on the other side of the ball, but a trainer told him otherwise.
“J.C. was an All-American wide receiver at Immokalee High School,” Christopher said. “I remember one of the trainers told me, ‘Man your son looks like an LSU DB’ and J.C. just started training and working out with him and all the DB drills and stuff like that.”
Growing up, kids see the gridiron as a way out and brush school aside to focus on football. Lisa, who worked with a dropout prevention program partnered with the school, never saw an issue with the current Patriots cornerback when it came to academics.
“I worked at the high school where he attended and J.C. was and still is a very humble guy, he was obedient, and his grades were pretty good, nothing where we had to go to the school and stay on top of,” Lisa said. “There was never any issues with behavior or with him skipping a class.”
But, there was one problem.
“Jerald never wanted to outdo the next person,” Lisa said. “He didn’t want to be better than that person, he always wanted to be on their level.”
It appeared more evident when it came to upperclassmen.
“During track season, he used to run faster than the senior boys but he didn’t want the attention,” Lisa said. “So he would hold back until really necessary and we would be on him and say, ‘Come on J.C. give it all you got why are you doing this, we know you can beat so and so’ and he would say, ‘Ma I’m good, I’m good.’ And when it was time to turn it on, he would turn it on.”
Shortly into his stint at the University of Florida, J.C. ran into trouble with the law. It was a trying time for the Jackson’s, but found their way through it with faith.
“The main thing in the household that we focused on was prayer and our belief in God,” Lisa said. “The lowest point when Jerald was going through his struggles with the issues that came around, we just kept everything in prayer, and we just kept telling him to do his best and keep focused on what he loved to do.”
Jackson kept his eye on the ball and was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent.
Christopher recounted when his son called him with the news and his first thoughts about J.C.’s new chapter.
“It was just a great joy [to hear how happy my son was],” Christopher said. “The first thing that came to my mind was Super Bowl.”
From undrafted free agent, to playing a key role on one of sport’s most decorated franchises, Lisa and Christopher could not be happier with their son.
“When you’re a parent and you went through every obstacle and you’ve done everything you thought was the right thing to do and they succeed, it’s our moment ,” Lisa said. “We made it, he made it, he overcame, we overcame and we say to him, ‘Here’s your reward Jerald for not giving up.’ We are very proud, it’s like a dream come true.”
Jackson’s parents told Prime Time Sports Talk that the Patriots cornerback always had a heart to give.
“He always wanted to motivate the youth to know that everyone has a story and to never give up,” Lisa said. “He just hosted a camp in our hometown with [Minnesota Vikings cornerback] Mackensie Alexander who is also our neighbor, [Deadrin Senat] who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons, and D’Ernest Johnson who is trying to make the 53-man roster as we speak for the Cleveland Browns.”
The event hosted by all four NFL players Lisa said, brought all of Immokalee, Florida together.
“They all got together to give back and the whole community came out and they were so thankful,” Lisa said. “The principal, coaches, it was really nice and Jerald felt good about showing the [Super Bowl] ring to the youth, letting them know that he did it and they can do it also.”
What is it like having a kid in the NFL? That is a question Christopher and Lisa hear constantly from family and friends back home.
“Everyday, all the time,” Lisa laughed.” It feels good but I don’t want them to feel like we think we are better than them, I want them to know that it’s a great feeling and it’s something that anyone can accomplish if they can work hard and never give up.”
The shock of their son receiving a Super Bowl ring still has not set in for the pair. They still tell people there is more work to be done for their son.
“People say they are so impressed, pleased, happy, and all of the above because he got a ring his first year and many [players] don’t get a chance to do that,” Lisa said. “But I just try to keep it on a level where he did his job and it’s cool, but I don’t say ‘Oh J.C. is the best’ nothing in that manner.”
Lisa said J.C. was not going to be happy until he won the Super Bowl. After they defeated the Los Angeles Rams, he found his motivation to get his second one.
“I asked him if he was happy starting for the team last season and he told me he wasn’t going to be happy until he made the Super Bowl,” Lisa said. “I asked him if he was happy after they won he said, ‘Mom I’m happy, but now I have to get another one so I can give that one to my Dad.'”
When asked about the ring his son has now. Christopher only had two words to describe it.
“It’s huge,” Christopher laughed. “Hard work pays off.”