What to Know
Watch NBC 6's Black History Special: Faces of the Future on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. on air and on the NBC 6 News and Weather App.
Demetrius Jackson is a true Miami native, growing up right here in the Overtown section of the city. He says growing up it was a tough life, and he believed there was only one way out: with a football. With that object at Booker T. Washington High School, he was able to get a scholarship to the University of Miami.
“That’s why I decided to stay home,” Jackson explained, “to help my mom with my brothers, and impact a lot of locals in my community.”
Now, the defensive end for the Hurricanes is using his platform to give back to young men in his hometown, because he says when it comes to his story, he's not even supposed to be here.
The biggest thing Jackson says helped him through childhood was love – love from his mother, who raised him and his siblings.
“My mom she tried her best you know to put a roof over our head,” Jackson said. “She made sure my sister, who went to the University of Florida, made sure she set a good example for us.”
Jackson was a basketball player, but then switched to football his senior year and excelled.
“I got three or four offers, and that was the end of basketball,” he said.
The end of basketball was the beginning of a new journey. The redshirt sophomore started in 10 games his freshman year at Miami, playing well above expectations. But beneath that 6’5”, 260 lbs. frame was a heart and soul that's bigger than you could imagine.
“Demetrius is one of our most involved students,” said Shirelle Jackson, the assistant athletic director for student athlete development at UM. “The very first time I met him he came into my office, and said I really want to start this mentorship program in my town. How can I do it the right way?”
The program is called Young Men of Tomorrow. Jackson, along with other players, mentors at risk youth in his hometown to help them graduate from high school and go to college.
“We try to help them and guide them along the way, because a lot of them don't have that father figure, that mentorship role, and we try as much as we can while we're in school to help them,” Jackson said.
Since the program launched it's been a winner for kids in not only Overtown, but across South Florida. While Jackson makes plays on the field, he's also become a game changer in saving lives in his community.
“I’m talking about kids who are the first to go to school in their family, kids who are the first to have a scholarship in their family, kids to break this generational curse in their family,” he said. “So that’s a blessing man.”
Jackson says he hopes to make it big in the NFL, but if that doesn't work out he hopes to one day run for public office – becoming county commissioner for Miami-Dade, then mayor of the county and his biggest goal is to one day become he governor of the state of Florida.