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Homeless DC student with college offer blocked from playing football for Ballou HS

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

Eighteen-year-old Jamal Speaks, a Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy senior, 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 and reportedly threatened to fire the coach if Speaks played.

The 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 he was kicked off the team over residency. Now he says he is homeless in DC, 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.

"I'm being told I can't play by the principal,” Speaks said. “I don't know why he telling me I can't play."

DC officials say Speaks is eligible to play for any DC high school because his school doesn’t have its own athletic program.

Jackson has not responded to calls from ABC7.

DC Councilmember Trayon White issued the following statement:


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