Archive for Saturday, September 6, 2008

Darnell Jackson’s letter to KU fans

Former Kansas University basketball forward Darnell Jackson, who on Friday signed a three-year guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, e-mailed a letter to the Journal-World this week. The Cavs' second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma City asked the J-W to share the letter with all KU fans.

Former Kansas University basketball forward Darnell Jackson, who on Friday signed a three-year guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, e-mailed a letter to the Journal-World this week. The Cavs' second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma City asked the J-W to share the letter with all KU fans.

September 6, 2008


Former Kansas University basketball forward Darnell Jackson, who on Friday signed a three-year guaranteed contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, e-mailed a letter to the Journal-World this week. The Cavs' second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma City asked the J-W to share the letter with all KU fans.

Dear Jayhawk fans,

Just about five years ago I realized a dream when coach (Bill) Self offered me a scholarship to become a Jayhawk. I came to Kansas as a young man who had a lot to learn in a lot of ways. My freshman year was a real eye opener.

On one hand I got a chance to play with some of the greatest players to don a KU uniform in Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien and Keith Langford.

But the rigors of big time college basketball were a real challenge. I had to grow up quickly and learn to take care of business in the classroom and on the court. As all of you know I was a role player my freshman year and played in only 13 games.

But what I hope you all realize is I felt so fortunate to play for the Jayhawks and especially to practice with and learn from guys like Simien and Langford.

By my sophomore year I was a little more prepared for what I needed to do. Coach Self gave me a chance to play a lot more. That year was one of the hardest years of my life. As most of you probably recall, my mom and grandma were hit by a drunk driver that year.

I was already struggling with trying to grow up and be a better student and a better teammate. Then when my mom was seriously hurt and my grandma was killed, I felt like the world was caving in on me. That, I think, was the first time I really truly started to understand what it meant to be part of the Jayhawk family.

Looking back I see what incredible support I received from so many Jayhawk fans that I had never even met. At the time I was really struggling to battle the "woe is me" trap. But now I can look back and see how I learned so much from all of you who were so ready to offer love and support.

I can tell you now, that is one of my most cherished memories as a Jayhawk. I loved winning on the court but it was then I started to see that being a Jayhawk was really something that would be there for me the rest of my life.

By my junior year I was still struggling with insecurity about handling all the stress I felt. My mom was still in pain and needing surgery after surgery. My little brother and sister were growing up and I felt I needed to be there for them. I still lacked confidence that I could step up and be what the coaching staff was hoping from me.

I felt like I needed to be a leader and to represent KU in a great way that all you fans deserved. But I still needed to grow up and learn how to handle all these things. But everywhere I turned there was always a KU fan with an encouraging word.

At the time I sometimes thought that no one really understood what I was going through. But looking back I have learned that even if that was true what really was amazing was that people just wanted to show love and support.

I now realize how that continuous support from all of you was always something that lifted me up and made me feel good and positive. It was my junior year that all my inner turmoil came to a head. I felt so overwhelmed by everything that I just reacted without really thinking and came home to Oklahoma City. I just felt I couldn't take care of my family and school as well as being the Jayhawk everybody wanted me to be any more. I was just feeling overwhelmed.

That is when it happened. After coach Self came down and talked with me I decided to come back. It was then I started to realize that the reason I was feeling so overwhelmed was that I was mostly focusing on myself and my stress. All this time I was playing for the greatest basketball school in the country with the best fans hands down.

I started to see what a blessing it was to have people who were so willing to show love and support. And I can assure you that you fans did show love and support far beyond anything I could have hoped for. I also realized that the coaching staff was trying to get me to become the best I could be.

I realized that all of the yelling and pushing was just trying to get me to work harder and improve. Over the summer between my junior and senior years I got to spend a lot of time at home. I really began to see and focus on all the blessings I had rather than all the trials. I came back for my senior year determined to be the best Jayhawk I could be.

A very close friend of mine, my mentor, always would tell me that when I was so blessed I needed to understand that put a responsibility on me to multiply those blessings by giving blessings to others.

I really was seeing what a great blessing it was to be on such a great team, with great coaches but most of all having the Jayhawk on my jersey in a packed Allen Fieldhouse with the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic fans anywhere.

So I wanted to start giving back by playing my butt off and giving all you fans something to cheer about. In April I was able to realize a second great dream along with all my teammates when we brought a National Championship back to Lawrence.

I didn't think anything could ever top running out on the court at Allen Fieldhouse. But when 100,000 fans showed up to celebrate our championship I truly felt so honored to be able to be a small part in bringing such joy to all you fans.

Believe me, it only begins to pay you back for all the love and support you have given me these last four years.

Well, this week I realized a third dream when I signed a multi-year contract to play in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers. I am very excited to play in Cleveland. But I want all of you fans to know that no matter where I go or what I do, I will forever be thankful to you for showing all the love and support for me these last four years. I AM FOREVER A JAYHAWK. I even have a degree to prove it. You fans have taught me so much and meant so much to me so I wanted to send you this letter saying THANK YOU.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk,
Darnell Jackson


Rickyonealku 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell my heart felt congratulations to you...Rock living in Norman, Oklahoma I can not wait for you and Cleveland to play our NEW OKC/Thunder.... my cheers will be for you Darnell along with continued prayers....Best of luck Darnell...

Janet Olin 9 years, 9 months ago

You have led by example and made all of us in Jayhawk Nation proud. I will follow your progress and success in the NBA and cheer every step. It's a wonderful feeling to see hard work, determination and selflessness rewarded. Hurray for one of the Good Guys. Congratulations. Rock Chalk.

swmrsue 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell, You are the epitomy of what being a "Kansas Jayhawk" represents. We are longtime KU supporters and we have had the privilege of watching games in Allen for the last 40+ years. As so many, you were my favorite player from the time you were a freshman. We were so excited to see the HUGE improvement in your game this year and the rewards you received because of your hard work. During the draft, we prayed that you would be selected because we felt that you, of all the players, deserved a chance to help your family financially. We know that this is just the beginning of many wonderful events that will occur in your life. Congrats Darnell! You are an inspiration to those around you. Good luck & God bless! Rock Chalk!

mom_of_three 9 years, 9 months ago

I hope the LJW forwards these comments back to him, but even if they don't, here are my words.I remember the first time I saw you, a freshman to be, sitting on the bleachers at Sport2sport, watching Danny Manning's basketball camp and talking on the phone. A few kids knew who you were, and asked for autographs. You kindly obliged, but were obviously uncomfortable. So quiet, perhaps not used to the attention. My daughter still has the basketball you signed, proudly displayed in her room. Several years later, you are sitting at a table in the Lawrence HIgh School gym, signing autographs for fans prior to the Barnstorming game, a month after winning the National Championship. You were smiling and joking with people, so confident. You made a comment to Rod Stewart about "the good looking guy" in the picture, and my daughter and I agreed. Then you couldn't believe how long we said the line was, and how you hoped you wouldn't have to disappoint any fans by leaving before they got there. And then you walked down the line, with Russell, and Jeremy and signed autographs and took pictures, so no one was left out. You are truly the epitome of Kansas Jayhawk basketball, and I wish you the best of luck in the NBA.

9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell -THANK YOU for all you gave us. It was painful to watch what you had to go through but a joy to see what you have become. Best of luck & congratulations!PS - To the LJW please run this entire letter for all to see!!!

kansas778 9 years, 9 months ago

Good luck Darnell, hopefully the Cavs can win the NBA championship, and make it four years in a row that a former KU player has been on the championship team.

jacqueshock 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell, I have greatly enjoyed reading about your KU story. You have become one of my favorite KU players next to Jacque Vaughn and Wayne Simien.

snovotny 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell,I came to Lawrence five years ago, and I could not begin to understand this Rock Calk Jayhawk stuff. I had the opportunity to attend KU's first trip to Canada in Vancouver four years ago. Now watching those boys, Simien, Miles and Lankford playing in a High School gym, and feeling the frenzy I started to get it. But the thing I remember most was this big eyed, big boy with an even bigger grin having the time of his life and ok with being bumped off the end of the bleacher after every time-out huddle. I had more fun watching you grow and become MY favorite Jaykawk. It was a big day for me watching you carry the trophy through the crowd after winning the National Championship! Congratulations and Good Luck!

readit 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell--Congratulations on the payoff for your hardwork. I felt like a proud aunt watching you grow at KU for four years. BEST of luck to you and your family. I will miss seeing your smile on the court. Rock Chalk!

Ace_Ventura 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell,This is the best thing you could have done is to write the fans and let us know how you are doing. Just goes to show who you really are. You have been one of my favorite players also. On and off the court. You show class everywhere you go. You deserve everything you are getting and plus more. Keep that good head on your shoulders! I'm not a big fan of the NBA, but I do watch a few players. You will be one of them. Don't forget us fans back here and come back to see us.Keep doin' what cha do!CG

ebyrdstarr 9 years, 9 months ago

Few KU players have ever been as easy to love, support, and respect as Darnell Jackson. What a superb young man he is. Such a classy move to take the time to say thank you to all of us who were lucky enough to watch him these last four years.And thank you Bill Self and staff for getting and keeping this guy!

jaywalker 9 years, 9 months ago

It was a beautiful thing to watch you adapt and overcome, grow and excel, DJ. Onward and upward, brother, you stay true to yourself and the world will turn. All the best.

jafo 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell, your letter has given us Jayhawk fans more reason to be PROUD to be Jayhawk fans. ROCK CHALK! I wish for you the best in your career and in life.

bkreed1960 9 years, 9 months ago

Wow!!! What an inspiration this young man is to us all, but especially to any youngster looking for a role model. He has gone through so much and come out so much stronger, not only as a player, but as a person. Best wishes on your future because with your attitude you will go far in all that you pursue. I am already missing you play at Allen Field House, but look forward to watching the Cavaliers much more and seeing you achieve more.

Bone777 9 years, 9 months ago

You are a class act. Good luck and the Cavaliers are the lucky ones...

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 9 months ago

He can have my baby anytime! LOLJ/K!What a splendid young man who has endured so much.Stay strong DJ.

TopJayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

D-block, Way to go big guy. I am so proud of you the way you worked and succeeded. Most of all I thank you for being the classy guy you are. You never embarrased us, and we knew what a quality man you are. I wish you all the continued success. You deserve it like no other. Take care big guy and remember. We here in Kansas will always remember, love and respect you. I hope you Rock Chaulk all the way to the bank. because you and your family deserve it. I also think your grandmother knows well how you are doing and will always be looking over your shoulder.Thank You.

1wetwilly 9 years, 9 months ago

This is a new and effective PR program by the NBA. It's similar to new army recruits that are "encouraged" to write positive letters back home.

qhays 9 years, 9 months ago

We love you D -- thanks for everything and thanks for being a Jayhawk. Congrats on the Championship, the NBA contract, and most of all -- the degree. Your letter is awesome. Rock Chalk!!!

tlcinks 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell,Thank you for sharing this letter with us.My prayers are with you!Take care,TLC

Boston_Corbett 9 years, 9 months ago

what a nice and thoughtful communication.Congrats and good luck.

fuel_for_the_fire 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell: You are admired and respected by KU fans for your hard work, perseverence, and team effort on the court. More importantly and infinitely so, you are admired and respected for your actions off of the court. It has been a pleasure to watch you grow into the fine responsible young man that you are today. Congratulations Darnell, you do us all proud.

poop2scoop 9 years, 9 months ago

Congratulations to you, Darnell...and to the NBA & Cavalier's public relations department.

Marla Jackson 9 years, 9 months ago

Darnell, you are the young man that ever mom would like to have. You were raised well what a great heart you have. I was never a Cleveland fan, because of you I will be the number 1 fan. Thanks

rabbit 9 years, 9 months ago

God bless you Darnell. You make us all proud to be Jayhawks

kansasplains 9 years, 9 months ago

There should be a mentor for everyone who needs one, from the arts and sports to anyone who needs one, of any age, in Lawrence. If this were carried out throughout the state, it would make a tremendous difference.

BEHiller 9 years, 9 months ago

I've never left a comment on this blog before but after reading this letter I felt like this warranted praise. Darnell, you are a class act, and a great ball player! Good luck in the NBA, I hope your family is doing well.Thanks for the memories, BH

Alison Roberts 9 years, 9 months ago

Talk about a class act! Congrats Darnell!

pimp11 9 years, 9 months ago

Wow, its awesome to see such a classy guy give meaningful thanks. Players always say "we love you fans" or this or that; but DJ actually in my opinion does.Best of LuckRock Chalk in 09

Haiku_Cuckoo 9 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for everything Darnell. Go Cavs!!!Allwetwilly, you're wrong about your NBA PR claim. If it was true, there would be five letters to the LJWorld from the Jayhawks that were picked up in the draft this year.

Nikki May 9 years, 9 months ago

I love the Jayhawks and follow all the former players once they hit the NBA. I can't wait to see this great guy play in the pros!

Martin Shupert 9 years, 9 months ago

You express yourself so well and you have such a great story, you really need to get a book out there about your four years, culminating in the National Championship. You have a story to tell!

imagold 9 years, 9 months ago

You are amazing, Darnell. What a great way to begin your career in the NBA by remembering your coaches, teammates and the hundreds of thousands of fans that loved you at K.U. Classy. Best of luck!

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