Homeless D.C. student with college offer meets with principal who blocked him from playing


A homeless D.C. student who was prevented from playing in front of college football recruiters last Saturday over residency concerns met with the Ballou High School principal Tuesday.

Eighteen-year-old senior Jamal Speaks — and a few of his coaches and teammates — seemed upbeat following the meeting.

“(He said) he was supporting me and he wanted me to play for Ballou,” Speaks said. “He just wanted to get it cleared through DCPS.”

Speaks is a senior with Ballou STAY Opportunity Academy — primarily a night school that shares a building with Ballou. He was pulled from Ballou’s game last Saturday against Anacostia on orders from principal Willie Jackson.

Jackson even also reportedly threatened to fire the coach if Speaks played.

Speaks played for Ballou as a freshman and sophomore but was cut over residency issues. Now he says he’s homeless, sleeping on a friend’s couch. D.C’s athletic association said he is eligible to play at any D.C. high school since his doesn’t have a football team.

That apparently wasn’t enough for Jackson.

Even worse for Speaks, he says he has a free ride offer from Temple University to play football but had to call the school’s coaches to tell them to not come watch him because he wasn’t playing.

It’s all sparked outrage.

“I just want to play ball,” Speaks said.

Jackson has not returned calls from ABC7 about the matter. A D.C. Public Schools spokesman said Jackson confirmed he met with Speaks Tuesday morning but denies he told him he could play for Ballou.

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