Making an Impact
Four men. Four lives in football. Four futures still left to play.
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Jamaal Jackson interrupts the interview to take a call on his cell phone. “It’s my dad,” he says. The conversation lasts less than a minute. Jamaal tells his father that he and his girlfriend will visit on Father’s Day, then ends with, “Love you, Dad.”
The call is brief because John Jackson is an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, where he has served five years of a nine-year sentence for kidnapping. Jamaal (pronounced Ja-meel) writes to his father and talks to him every week. He visits once or twice a month. His father “has made some mistakes,” he says. Jamaal believes the kidnapping charge resulted from “a miscommunication” in a domestic situation.
Jamaal now has the chance to live out a dream John Jackson may have entertained 20-plus years ago, when he was a star running back at Claymont High School. At about the same time, Jamaal’s mother, Maila Madric, was a top hurdler at Sanford School, St. Mark’s and, later, Temple University, which she attended on a track scholarship. Those bloodlines and Jamaal’s work ethic have combined to produce a running back who has college scouts drooling.
Though slightly undersized at 5-feet-9 and 170 pounds, Jackson possesses 4.4-second 40-yard speed and tremendous balance. Bob LaFazia, who has been watching Delaware football since the 1940s, calls Jackson the state’s best back—ever.
With her background in athletics, Madric, a counselor at the New Castle County Detention Center, has helped her son maximize his gifts. When he floundered as a freshman at Brandywine High School, she researched other schools. She picked Hodgson Vo-Tech and Coach Frank Moffett, who has placed several players in NCAA Division I programs. Early this year, she and Jamaal traveled to three “combines”—workouts that showcase top high school players—including the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, where he made honorable mention All-Combine. She will accompany him when he takes the five official campus visits allowed by the NCAA.
Page 3: College Bound, continues...