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DCPS: Homeless student will be allowed to play with Ballou High team after controversy

Jamal Speaks, homeless DC student with college offer, was blocked from playing football for Ballou High School Saturday. (ABC7)

A controversy concerning a homeless D.C. high school student who was denied the opportunity to play football with the Ballou High team Saturday has been resolved. Jamal Speaks will be allowed to play with the team after all, ABC 7's Sam Ford reports.

The 18-year-old is a Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy senior. He was set to play Saturday in the regular Ballou High School football team's game against Anacostia, but principal Willie Jackson stepped in and said no, reportedly threatening to fire the coach if Speaks played.

Saturday's game was delayed 45 minutes as the rest of the team appealed to the principal but Speaks was ruled out.

He had previously played for the Ballou varsity and as a freshman and sophomore, but was kicked off the team over residency issues. Now he says he is homeless in D.C., sleeping on friends’ couches. Speaks says Temple University offered him a scholarship, if he keeps his grades up. He said the Temple coaches were coming to see him play Saturday, but he was benched.

DC officials told ABC 7 at that time that Speaks is eligible to play for any DC high school because his school doesn’t have its own athletic program.

This is a developing story.

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