ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson just posted a great article about Lamar Jackson and his first trainer, his mother! She says that Lamar did not even like football as an 8-year-old, which seems crazy now. Here are a few excerpts from Andrea’s article.
His mom, Felicia Jones, came up with a plan to maximize his obvious gifts: Jackson started working with a local trainer named Van “Peanut” Warren. During those workouts, Jones sat on a metal bench and quietly observed every single quarterback drill Warren did, taking mental notes the entire time.
She made Jackson do the same drills at home, but she also supplemented them with something else: tackling drills. Lamar and his little brother, Jamar, put on their equipment and went into the backyard. Mom put on equipment, too. She had them run, and then she would tackle them.
Just to reiterate: Jackson was 8.
“People don’t believe me,” Jackson said in a recent interview. “She was an athlete. She used to play basketball. She saw what we were able to do, and she’d go back there and play football with us. She was just making us tougher because she’s older, so she’s bringing power that we’re not used to feeling. We didn’t take it like anything different.”
Jones tackled him to the ground a few times, and she did not hesitate to talk just a little. “Not gonna lie, she did it,” he says.
This went on until Jackson learned how to avoid his mom, and therefore elude tackles. Once he could move past her, she moved on to different workouts, relentlessly pushing her son so he could see the potential she saw. They went to the gym and lifted weights. They did squats. They worked on their core.
It hardly mattered how much Jackson complained. He had no choice in the matter. Jones made him do the workouts, and she had no patience or tolerance for excuses. From age 8, that meant working out six days a week. Saturdays were his only day to rest.
“Lamar was this gift and you see talent like that a lot here in South Florida, but you don’t see the work,” Warren said. “That was the difference, seeing him put in the extra work. It was like, ‘Yeah I can throw the football,’ but being able to work on the craft, being able to throw that out … he was a perfectionist. He wanted to get it right every single time.”