“I would like to make it very clear that I am not and never have been part of any gang," Jackson said in a statement. "I am not a gang member and to speculate and assume that I am involved in such activity off the field is reckless and irresponsible.”
Now, his Long Beach Poly high school coach has denied an NJ.com report alleging gang ties for the former Pro Bowl wide receiver.
“Gangbanger, what the (heck) is that about?” Long Beach Poly coach Raul Lara told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “All I was saying was that it was a tragic part of his life when his father died. He’s not a gangbanger, I don’t know where they’re getting that from, and I didn’t say that he was.”
Lara is a Los Angeles County probation officer for the juvenile courts system who has worked extensively with young people in gangs, per the newspaper.
“He’s a great guy — he was a sweet kid when he was in high school, always very polite and respectful with me," said Debbie Hughes, Jackson's high school counselor. "There was no gang activity with him. He wasn’t in a gang — that’s not to say that other students weren’t, but DeSean wasn’t one of them."
Added Poly athletic director Rob Shock: "He was a great kid and he’s been a great citizen since he’s graduated. Every single year during his bye week he comes back and talks to the kids and goes to a game — he did his anti-bullying rally at Poly a few years ago. We know who DeSean Jackson is, and it’s not the man portrayed in that article. I texted him that we support you 100 percent.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.