Introducing Henry High Men’s Basketball Coach Jamil Jackson


Past: Birthplace, Oceanside, CA. My parents moved to North Minneapolis when I was three months old, but separated when I was 14 years old, forcing me to become the “man of the house.” The following year Mom became addicted to drugs and left us. Her departure left me responsible for my younger siblings: five brothers and one sister. Because of a lack of resources, I hit the streets and sold drugs to provide for the family. I dropped out of high school in my junior year and never attended college.

At the age of 26, I enrolled in a six-month construction program at Summit Academy OIC, graduated top of my class, and was offered a job at Braxton Hancock (one of the top framing companies in the Midwest).  I worked there for eight months before taking a leap of faith to start my own interior remodeling business.

Present: I am the father of three beautiful children: Dominick 22 (Graduate of Penn State University) currently working at Henry as a Special Education Assistant; Jamil Jr. 19 (Southern Utah Univ. on a D1 basketball scholarship); and Asia 17 (Mississippi Valley State University). I have been married for five years to my beautiful wife Gail Jackson. We live in the Cleveland Neighborhood.

I have a variety of vocational interests:

  • Instructor, Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Black Male Student Achievement.
  • Executive Director, E. O. Change Equals Opportunity, a youth mentoring program aimed at youth of color ages 12-25 with mentorship focus in education, employment and life skills.
  • Executive Director, Run and Shoot EBL (Elite Basketball League): Summer Leagues: high school players in the city; and returning college players. Winter Leagues: middle school league where eligibility is based on superior school performance provided by partnership with schools; and high school league showcases players who participate in mentoring and community service featuring college, career and cultural experiences. All leagues are hosted at Farview Park, 621 North 29th Ave.
  • Owner operator of an interior remodeling business which only hires youth and felons. I also co-own a used car lot in Atlanta where we mentor youth in entrepreneurship through the purchase and sales of used cars across the United States.

Future: I will travel the globe speaking to educators about how to engage youth of color. I will also create nationwide C. E. O. chapters that reach youth, and provide evaluation and recruiting exposure to (rather than exposure of) underprivileged basketball players.

Heros:  The late Gary Wilson, neighbor and coach at Farview Park Recreation Center.  He is the reason I started playing sports at Farview and the biggest reason I am still here today! His love for our community was a testament to “It Takes a Village.” For so many years he touched the lives of so many.

Steve Jackson, my father. Although my father left my family when I was 14, we stayed connected through sports. My father was my first basketball coach. He was also the janitor at Glenwood Lyndale Community Center and opened the gym on weekends for the community to hoop. Through learning how to deal with adversity on the court I was able to deal with his absence and rebuild our relationship. Our conversations about the whys and the whats showed me his genuine love for his family had never left. I now know the devastating impact upon my father of growing up without a father to imitate. To date we are best of friends, hanging out weekly and showing the men of our community how to forgive and grow authentically.  Even as he was trying to find his own way in life he continued to give back to the youth of the community. I haven’t come close to reaching, touching and changing youth as my Pops.

Education: I have never attended college.  All three of my children attend college.  I do my best to expose every youth I encounter to the importance of college and the opportunities that come with a degree. I also understand that all of our youth are not college material so I put just as much emphasis on trade school and entrepreneurship opportunities to allow them to find their way to financial freedom.

Philosophy:  You get what you give. Always put 150 percent effort into everything you do including tying your shoes. Regardless of the outcome, you will sleep better as you know you gave your all.

Quotes:  “I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can.” –Helen Keller

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Offense:  Fast pace motion offense with sets that allow movement and opportunity for five players to shoot when open.

Defense:  Man to man “40 minutes of hell” style of play. We will pressure the ball 94 feet with some full-court and half-court traps. To ensure my players are prepared to insert themselves into whatever system the game requires we will also play some zone.

Feeder Program:  This is a must! It is our responsibility to create early investment into our program. Putting youth in a Henry uniform as early as possible makes them feel a part of the program and brings greater likelihood they will choose and thrive in our program.

Camps:  We will host the first of three year-wide camps for youth this spring. These camps will ensure: our youth get the necessary skill sets to be successful basketball players wherever they choose to attend high school; we market the Henry program.

Staff:  Keeping the Henry Basketball family together is an important visual for youth. Most of the coaches return from last year: Head Varsity Coach Jamil Jackson; Varsity Assistants Michael Miller (Behavior Intervention Specialist at Henry) / Steven Pastor (Dean at Olsen Middle School); JV: Tyrell Sledge (Behavior Intervention Specialist at Henry) / Rashaad Singleton (Dean of Students at Henry); C Squad: Cornelius Pitts; and Team Operations Mark Kociemba (Staff member at Henry).