Former CIAA Champion Hopes To Inspire Others With Spirit of Perseverance

Former Johnson C. Smith forward Earl Jackson recently penned a motivational book based on his experiences pursuing a pro basketball career. (Earl Jackson photo)

Motivational books come a dime a dozen these days. Pretty much every one from the president to the milk man has a motivational book they think can change your life. So what makes Earl Jackson’s motivational book different from any other book gathering dust on a Barnes And Noble (if that store is still around by the time this thing gets published) book shelf?

He’s a six-foot, six-inch Division II center with 2.94 career scoring average that is being paid to play basketball.

The former Johnson C. Smith and current Euroleague basketball player recently published his first book, titled “A Spirit of Perseverance.” The book tells the story of how Jackson pursued his dream of continuing his career after college, despite the fact that scouts weren’t exactly beating down his door.

“Basketball was a dream that I wanted to pursue, and through the help of my support system I was able to pursue it,” Jackson said.

The way Jackson ended up at JCSU was due to perseverance and persistence on the part of he and his mother, Gwendolyn Wright.

Doctors thought an injury would keep him off the basketball court as a senior, but his mother found a doctor to help him rehabilitate in time to play at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, MD. And when it was clear Jackson wasn’t going to get the opportunity to play Division I ball, his mother helped him find his way to Charlotte.

“She called around to different colleges and she set up workouts,” Jackson said. “Landing at Johnson C. Smith just felt the most home to me as a school.”

Jackson played at JCSU from 2007-2011, winning back-to-back CIAA Championships in 2008 and 2009 under the direction of CIAA Hall of Fame coach Stephen Joyner, Sr. Jackson says the lessons he learned from Joyner contributed to his book in a major way. 
“We have a great relationship to this day,” Jackson said of Joyner. “I think the relationship may have gotten better now that I’ve stopped playing basketball [for Joyner].” 

// graduating from JCSU in 2011, Jackson worked a string of temp jobs before taking a chance to follow his dream of continuing his basketball career. He had planned on attending the CIAA Tournament as a spectator for the first time, but an opportunity to play with a barnstorming team in overseas arose, and Jackson was faced with deciding between a guaranteed good time or a potentially fruitless trip overseas.

“I had a couple of conversations with people and they said, this may be your only chance,” Jackson said.  “Either you’re going to sacrifice what you are now for what you want to be come.” 
Jackson decided to take the chance and pay his way to Peru, which paid off in a big way as he landed his first professional contract. Jackson also played in Argentina before latching on as power forward for the Evil Sportif Ormes in France.

Jackson says he hopes “A Spirit of Perseverance” helps other people pursue their dreams with a passion.

“If you work hard enough, something will happen,” he said. “If you continuously push through and you strive for greatness that something will happen. Things won’t stay the same.”



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