June 24, 2004
By Teresa Varley,
PITTSBURGH – Linebacker Alonzo Jackson wanted nothing more than to share Draft Day with his dad a year ago, the day he was selected by the Steelers.
He wanted his dad to see him wear a Steelers uniform for the first time. He wanted him to see his first NFL game.
But Jackson didn’t have the opportunity to share those moments with his father. That was taken away from him. Taken away by a deadly disease.
Jackson’s father, Eddie B. Jackson, lost his battle to prostate cancer just a few weeks before the draft last year. It was a hard time for the young linebacker, missing out on a moment he had hoped more than anything to share with his dad.
It’s a little over a year since his father’s death and Jackson wants to do something else to honor his memory. He feels one of the best ways is to reach out to others and encourage them to be tested for the disease, something his dad never did.
Jackson has been helping to promote the Father’s Day 5K Run for Prostate Cancer and will be even more involved in prostate cancer issues throughout the year. He doesn’t want others to lose what he lost.
“It took someone away from me that means a lot to me,” said Jackson. “If he went and got checked, he would be here with me today. He is the one and only reason I am here right now today, that I am a part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. It’s him and him alone. He made me think of school first and then football. He was one of the main reasons I decided to graduate college early.”
It was painful for Jackson to see what happened to his father once cancer took over his body, and you can hear the emotion, love and admiration in his voice whenever he speaks of him.
“I saw my dad go from a big, strong black man that put his foot down, that’s working hard at work to being a bed-ridden, frail guy,” said Jackson. “I sat beside my dad the day before he died, that morning. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t really move. We sat there and watched television. He drifted in and out of sleep.
“I thought I would do anything to have my dad back. If my dad were alive today he would be right here beside me. He would be out there on the practice field with me. He would be there when I was going through hard times.
“I don’t have that right now and prostate cancer took that away from me. Now I am making it my initiative to go out and sack prostate cancer. We are going to do what we have to do. I want to save lives and change lives.”