Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson doesn't owe anyone anything. That would be true even if he were professionally compensated for his basketball abilities, but he isn't, at least not yet. Jackson is still a college athlete, and for many college athletes, finding cash for one's own personal expenses is hard enough. You can't be going around giving random strangers gifts.
Unless, maybe, that stranger needs a pair of shoes. Thanks to shoe companies' enthusiastic (ahem) sponsorship deals with athletic programs, shoes are the one thing to which a collegiate basketball player has essentially unlimited access. Not that that diminishes Jackson's gesture over the weekend -- in which he helped a young man and his mom get shoes for going back to school.
On Monday, Jackson posted a link via his Twitter page to an Instagram photo of himself and a young man, Da'john Johnson, followed by a caption from a woman named Bridgette Johnson, which read:
"God is so good! My children and I went to Champs the other day to buy school shoes, but little did we know that God had us in the position to receive a blessing. As we looked around, Pierre Jackson came and talked to my youngest son James about football and what shoe size he wore. To our surprise, he wore the same size and said that he would give James some shoes he wanted to give away. You just can't beat God giving!! Pierre, God bless you and your future, you have truly been a blessing, God Bless!!"
Jackson said overhearing the family reminded him of when he couldn't afford the bare essentials. Now he has extra shoes left to give away. Why not?
“This weekend I over heard this Lil guy trying to get some shoes that were pretty expensive and his mom wasn’t able to get and it just seems soo familiar cause that’s how I use to be!” posted Jackson. “But long story short I was able to meet up with them a couple days later and give him a couple pair of shoes! Just to see his moms years of joy and see how happy he was made me super happy!! I guess you can say this made my week!!”
A gesture like that is about so much more than shoes. It's about a kid going to school being proud of what he's wearing, maybe for the first time in years. It's about being able to tell your friends that Pierre Jackson, Baylor point guard, is probably the coolest dude on the planet and easily his favorite player, and did you know he wore these shoes in the NCAA Tournament/Big 12 tournament/against Kansas? Jackson made that kid's month, and he totally flipped the script for his mom.
There isn't anything to not like about this story. It affirms just how good a guy Jackson is, for one. But more than that, it reminds us that empathy, even in the most unassuming forms, can make all the difference in the world.