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D.J. Jackson: Turning tragedy into triumph

D.J. Jackson was supposed to have a fairytale basketball career. Born to a professional basketball-player, turned hall-of-fame high school coach, D.J. dreamed of a chance to play for dad.

“Everyone wanted to play for my dad. Me being in his household, basketball was just what we did,” said Jackson.

One minute, he was a 13-year-old basketball player waiting for his chance to play point guard for his dad. The next minute he was mourning the death of his father, his mentor and his dream.

“I was 13 and my dad got told he had cancer,” said Jackson. “I had to watch his body deteriorate right in front of my eyes.”

The internal struggle of whether or not to play basketball lasted all of a few days, but D.J. couldn’t imagine a world without the game he loved.

“The question became ‘Where [am I] gonna play now?’ I had people calling me asking me where I was gonna play. I ended up going to a private school and playing for one of my dad’s friends. It all worked out,” said Jackson.

He went on to play at Archbishop O’Hare High School, where he helped lead his team to a conference championship and a district runner up finish. He also earned all-area, all-metro and all-state honors. Jackson was the conference MVP, and was selected to the all-tournament team in three separate tournaments. He averaged 22 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals per game as a senior.

Jackson was heavily recruited by Oral Roberts University, Wichita State, Southern Illinois, San Francisco and UMKC before deciding to attend ORU.

After redshirting his freshman season, Jackson lead ORU in assists during the 2012 season. With the departure of seniors Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles, Jackson now has the opportunity to take on a much bigger leadership role for the Golden Eagles.

“I’m really excited for this season,” said Jackson. “We’ve got a bunch of new guys who have come in and really shown their athleticism. We have a real team concept this year, there are no egos.”

While good team cohesion will certainly help the Golden Eagles, it won’t win their games.

ORU faces a tough road schedule to start the season, most notably a trip to the University of Wisconsin. D.J. and the Golden Eagles won’t back down from the challenge.

The team will start their season in the Maybee Center on Nov. 2 against Northwood University.

Get to know D.J.

Game Day Traditions:  Praying and getting focused

Favorite Pre Game Meal: Spaghetti

Inspiration: Chris Paul

Favorite Superhero: Batman

Favorite Basketball Moment? ”MJ’s last shot. It was so memorable. For my own career, its just when I’m in the zone and everything is going in. I love that.”

Favorite Pre-Game Artist: J. Cole

Goals after ORU: Playing basketball, journalism later

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