Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson hosted his F.A.S.T elite skills football camp for more than 300 students in northeast Washington, D.C.
Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Friday evening hosted his F.A.S.T elite skills football camp for more than 300 students in northeast Washington, D.C.
Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson remembers being a young, impressionable kid growing up in the inner city, in constant contact with influences that could shape his life in a negative way.
He remembers how he avoided them, too, thanks to a support system that made sure he stayed dedicated to work and motivated in his aspirations of playing professional football.
Friday evening, Jackson offered some of the same support to hundreds of inner city kids in attendance for his first F.A.S.T. Elite Skills football camp at the Riggs-LaSalle Recreation Center in northeast Washington, D.C.
Jackson's mother Gayle was also on hand, helping introduce her son to Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser, who lives just a few blocks away from the field and wanted to lend her own support to Jackson's mission.
"I love being with these kids," Jackson said. "Any opportunity, any chance I get with to touch these kids' lives and really let them know that their lives matter and their careers matter. Hopefully I can relay a message to have them know, if there's one thing they can take away from today, it can help them later on in their life or even right now in their life."
The message, at least for the several hours the kids spent on the combination turf field, was all about speed, Jackson's premiere trait.
After a brief introductory huddle, Jackson and the numerous coaches helping with the camp split up into multiple stations to emphasize the acronym spelled across each kid's gold shirt: "Footwork, Agility, Speed and Technique."
"I'm actually proud to announce that my team was able to come from California and actually participate and just give these kids some of the same drills, some of the same life lessons and obstacles as well from when I was a young kid and when I was training," Jackson said.
"His heart is right here on this field," Gayle said. "We're happy to be here. We're delighted – we've partnered up with some great partners, the Mayor's office, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation – it's a beautiful field. We're just happy to be here."
So, too, were the kids, who got a chance to show off their skills in front of family and friends watching from the sideline bleachers, and maybe more importantly in front of Jackson himself, who inserted himself into various drills, throwing passes and providing counsel when needed.
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With the emphasis on speed, the kids, many ranging in age from 6 to mid-teens, cycled through a variety of drills that included running sprints, hurdles and ladders. Some tested their pass catching ability, too, which Jackson was quick to provide adjustments.
"It means everything for the kids and that's what it's all about," Bowser said. "We're really grateful to DeSean for supporting the community and being out here to talk to kids about their future sports aspirations…It's always great when adults care about [their children] and are willing to invest time."
All of the students that participated were residents of the community, and one group was invited from the Model Secondary School, which provides education for the deaf and hard of hearing.
But attending the camp wasn't enough.
Jackson, who remembered spending time at former St. Louis Ram Az-Zahir Hakim's football camp as a youngster, made sure those involved played and practiced with the same spirit and enthusiasm he had while learning his craft.
"If I don't feel the energy from them, they've got to get off this field," Jackson said. "When I used to come on the field, I used to give everything I got and I still do to this day. I just want them to do the same thing. If they give me all that they have, I'm going to give them all that I have."
So they did. So he did.