NFL star DeSean Jackson talks bullying in  Oakland


Vittorio Tafur, San Francisco Chronicle

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Vittorio Tafur, Chronicle Staff  Writer

                 Published 4:00 a.m., Saturday, May 21, 2011

DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and former Cal  Berkeley football prepares to address a crowd of students at McClymonds High  School in Oakland Calif, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. Photo: Alex Washburn,  The Chronicle / SF

  • DeSean Jackson of  the Philadelphia Eagles and former Cal Berkeley…

(05-21) 21:22 PDT DeSean  Jackson looked into the crowd of young faces at West Oakland’s McClymonds  High School on Thursday, and it was a little jarring.

There was no crowd – maybe 100 kids in a big auditorium at a mostly empty  school. The dropout rate at McClymonds is 70 percent, and the 400-plus kids  enrolled have been hardened by things they’ve seen or experienced.

Jackson, the former Cal and current Philadelphia  Eagles wide receiver, is making the rounds delivering to students – and San  Quentin inmates on Friday – a couple of messages. One, work hard and don’t lose  sight of your dreams, and two, don’t be a bully, condone or even  ignore bullying.

“I was sitting right where you are,” said Jackson, who grew up in the  hardscrabble

Crenshaw area of Los Angeles. “I knew people who died, saw the drugs and  people doing what they had to do to get by. But I made something out of myself.  I made something out of nothing.”

Jackson, who visited Palo Alto High after he went to San Quentin on Friday,  urged the McClymonds kids to constantly try to make the right decision. “Thank  you for coming to school today,” he said. “That was a good decision  you made.”

Oakland rapper/entertainer Ray  Luv and Cal football coach Jeff  Tedford also spoke – Tedford of an alcoholic father who left when he was 9  years old.

“I know there’s challenges and I know you have dealt with adversity,” Tedford  told the students. “You can have a poor attitude or a positive attitude about  it. It’s all about developing the right habits, pushing forward.”

Jackson then addressed bullying, a topic he later admitted is a “tough sell”  to kids who are “raised with bullying being a way of life, a way to survive – I  was a bully when I was a kid.”

Jackson told the students about a 13-year-old Philadelphia boy who was beaten  severely by six older kids. Nadin  Khoury is his name, and he inspired Jackson’s newfound social activism when  Jackson found out he was the kid’s idol.

When Nadin went on the TV show “The View” to raise awareness about bullying,  Jackson surprised him there and gave him the Eagles jersey off  his back.

“That little bro inspired me,” Jackson told the McClymonds students, before  challenging any of the bullies in the crowd to come up on stage and talk  to him.

“Bullying is not going to make your mom proud,” Jackson told the students.  “It’s not going to pay your bills. It’s nothing to be proud of.”

Jackson and his brother, Byron, will next host the SportsRhythms  Sports Academy Football Camp at Vacaville  Christian Schools June 10-12. The camp is for kids in grades three through  12, and there are scholarships available.

Other than football training, Byron Jackson said, the camp will give kids  “core values that will last a lifetime.” He and DeSean often refer to their  “Five Principles” – Desire, Dreams, Vision, Belief and Power.

“DeSean Jackson came to tell us that hard work pays off, that dreams do come  true,” McClymonds  center Dione Green said. “It was great.”


DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and former Cal Berkeley football prepares to address a crowd of students at McClymonds High School in Oakland Calif, on Thursday, May 19, 2011. Photo: Alex Washburn, The Chronicle / SF