Josh Jackson was one of the top picks in the 2017 NBA Draft after just one season at the University of Kansas. The Phoenix Suns picked Jackson with the fourth pick. The 20-year-old guard was impressive on the court, earning the 2017 Big 12 Freshman of the Year title. He was raised in Detroit and is an only child.
Jackson split his high school years in Detroit and Napa, California. He first attended Consortium College Prep School in Detroit, before heading to the west coast to spend his last two years of high school at Justin-Siena High School.
Here’s what you need to know about Jackson’s family.
1. Jackson Was Born in San Diego While His Mom Apples Jones Served in the Navy
Although Jackson was raised in Detroit, he was born in San Diego. As Kentucky.com notes, Jackson’s mother, Apples Jones, moved to Michigan when he was eight years old so they could be near her family.
After two years of high school in Michigan, Jackson transferred to Justin-Siena High School in California. His mother said that this was because the school offered “higher educational standards” and because he could play basketball against better competition.
“If you look at Josh’s stats and what he accomplished in those short two years of high school, to me the numbers were ridiculous,” Jones told Kentucky.com. “It showed me that it’s time to move on.”
2. Jackson’s Stepdad, Clarence Jones, Died While Jackson Played in a 2014 Las Vegas Tournament
While Jackson was playing in a 2014 tournament in Las Vegas, he lost his stepfather, Clarence Jones. Clarence and his mother were married for 10 years and Jackson referred to him as “dad.”
“He was 23 years older than me, but he didn’t look it or act it,” Jones told the Topeka Capital-Journal of her husband. “He instilled a lot of the male role in Josh. He was one of those real fathers, who instill discipline.”
Clarence Jones’ death was just one in a string of tragedies Jackson has faced. As he told Bleacher Report, his high school coach Al Anderson died during his freshman year. Then, while he was playing in Greece on Team USA’s under-19 team, a cousin he considers a great friend was killed.
Jackson told Bleacher Report that Clarance Jones was his “life coach,” adding, “He was always telling me to worry about the things I can control. He would always tell me that. What he meant was pretty self-explanatory, but it was special to me because at some point, I was dealing with a lot of things in my life that I didn’t have control over.”
3. Jackson’s Mom Also Played College Basketball in Kansas, but Not at UK
Jackson’s mother also played college basketball in Kansas, but not quite at the same level as her son. After playing basketball at King High School in Detroit, she ended up at Allen County Community College in Iola, Kansas because she didn’t get great grades.
“I wasn’t aware of how basketball and academics went hand in hand,” Jones told Kentucky.com. “That wasn’t what was practiced (at my school). If I would have known, I could have made some better choices.”
She was able to transfer to a Division I school – University of Texas, El Paso – for her junior year. There, she finally learned that she had to keep her grades up. She excelled on the court, but continued to struggle academically. She was academically ineligible for her senior season and opted to leave UTEP. She joined the Navy and played for their basketball team, but she left when she became pregnant with Jackson.
According to Kentucky.com, she did get a WNBA tryout, but decided she couldn’t play basketball and raise Jackson at the same time. As Jackson grew up to be a great player, she decided to dedicate herself to making sure his basketball career didn’t meet a similar fate.
“Nobody has your kid’s best interests at heart more than you,” Jackson told Kentucky.com. “Every parent wants the best for their kids. But you have to get in there. You have to ask the hard questions. You have to be wary of other people. You have to be skeptical all the time. Everything is a doubt, until they prove otherwise.”
4. Jackson’s Parents Held Him Back in 8th Grade Because His Basketball Was Interfering With His Grades
Jackson’s mother and stepfather were so dedicated to making sure Jackson’s academics were as important to him as his basketball play that they actually held him back from starting high school. The Detroit News reports that Clarence Jones and Apples Jones decided that he needed to repeat eighth grade, so they enrolled him at Voyager Middle School before he went to high school.
“Academics is one of the mainstays of what we try to teach in our home,” Clarence Jones told the Detroit News. “He was playing a lot of basketball and it was interfering with his grades. We didn’t want him to be another statistic. We try to five him leeway, to handle responsibilities.”
The late Consortium coach Al Anderson told the Detroit News that his parents made a wise decision. “He’s mature,” Anderson said. “Being held back a year helped.”
5. Jackson’s Mom Says There’s a Whole ‘Village’ of People Who’ve Helped Her Son
In an interview with SBNation, Jackson made it clear that his mother has been with him every step of the way. But she wouldn’t take credit for his achievements. She told SBNation that there is a “village” of aunts, coaches and friends who have helped her raise Jackson.
“It takes more than a parent to truly raise and invest in a kid,” Jones told SBNation. “It’s a community.”
Having been through the college recruitment process, Jones told Kentucky.com that she’d really like to see it change. She wants to see parents more involved in their children’s future.
“I want to come in and include parents,” she told Kentucky.com. “I always see an AAU coach or a high school coach with the kid. Especially with these elite players. I want to empower parents. I want to educate them, give them the resources to get involved. Get out here and get involved with your kid’s passion. Because the game is so brutal now.”