A Redlands 9-year-old who started playing basketball before he turned 4 has developed into a two-sport phenomenon, according to his father and coaches with Redlands YMCA and Inland Empire Jr. All American Football.
Todd Jeremi Jackson Jr. was born in October 2003 at Loma Linda University Medical Center and the first word he spoke was "ball," his father Todd Jackson Sr. said Thursday in a phone interview.
Todd Jr. started with Redlands YMCA basketball in 2007 when he was three-and-a-half years old, and he often practices dribbling and shooting three hours a day, Todd Sr. said.
By age 7 he could dribble two balls at once, and a YouTube video shows Todd Jr. doing so with relative ease at Venice Beach. The video is attached to this report.
"Todd never wants to be Batman or Superman on Halloween," Todd Sr. says. "He wants to be basketball players like Dr. J."
Todd Jr.'s mom is Twanna Jackson, and she is a graduate Redlands High, Todd Sr. said. Todd Sr. and Twanna have lived together in Redlands about 12 years, and Todd Jr. has attended Franklin Elementary and Kimberly Elementary, both in Redlands.
At age 8, Todd Jr. started playing organized football for the first time, Todd Sr. said. He had played flag football once but otherwise he did not know the rules of tackle football.
Nevertheless he excelled this season with the junior micro Redlands Terriers in the Inland Empire Jr. All American Football League.
He became the best running back in his age division, his team made the playoffs and he was named All-Conference, Todd Sr. said.
"He once scored four touchdowns on four carries and his coach had to take him out to comply with sportsmanship rules," Todd Sr. said. "They were leading by too many points."
Once he learned more of the rules, Todd Jr. started playing defense as well, helping his team by making tackles as a safety.
The young man from Redlands is a good student as well. He has earned straight A's since 1st grade, he wants to play for UCLA one day, and he hopes to attend UCLA's School of Medicine and become a cardiologist - "a heart doctor."
Todd Jr. is now in 4th grade at Newman Leadership Academy, a charter school in San Bernardino.