Homeless DC student banned from playing football in front of college recruiters over ‘residency’ concerns
A homeless teen hoping to land a college scholarship playing football was banned by the principal of his high school from appearing in a game attended by college recruiters who came to his game specifically to see him play.
According to WJLA, 18-year-old Jamal Speaks, who attends a Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy, was to set to play Saturday in the game with the knowledge that college scouts — including one who has previously expressed interest in offering him a scholarship — would be there to watch.
However, Ballou principal Willie Jackson refused to let Speaks step on the field over worries about residency requirements, going so far as to threaten the school’s football coach job if he disobeyed him.
According to the report, Speaks attended the school and played on the team previously during his freshman and sophomore years but was forced off when he had to resort to sleeping on couches wherever he could after becoming homeless.
Speaks and his godmother appealed to the State Athletic Association back in August when issues arose and he was cleared to play, with Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White stepping in to help the teen find permanent housing.
Despite those efforts, and the fact that Speaks’ teammates spent 45 minutes delaying Saturday’s game in the hopes he could play, principal Jackson refused to relent.
The report goes on to say that a scout from Temple University in Philadelphia — who was in attendance on Saturday — has dangled a scholarship offer if the teen is able to keep his grades up.
You can watch the video below via WJLA: