The draft takes place in Philadelphia from April 27-29, an experience that would launch King’s career on the heels of a standout senior campaign which included 97 tackles, five sacks, and one phenomenal piece in The Players’ Tribune titled “For Our Brother,” which among other things is a tribute to the life of Jackson.
A life he and many others had a powerful connection with.
Jackson was 20 and a promising young cornerback from Queens at the time of his death as a sophomore at Army. More importantly, he was someone who impacted the lives of many while his own was cut far too short.
“Everybody who goes to a service academy knows the stakes,” King wrote in the Players Tribune piece released days before the annual Army-Navy game on December 10, 2016. “But I never thought I would lose one of my brothers while we were still at school together — while we were still teammates. West Point prepares you for many things, but not for something like that.”
King, who is in the process of wrapping up his senior year, lived minutes away from Jackson while attending Flushing High School, but the two never met until they became teammates at Army.
The former senior Army captain has a “late round to undrafted free agent” projection. However, the Queens native has worked out with the New York Jets and Giants ahead of the Draft, and has been countlessly praised for his football instincts, leadership and toughness while in college.
All of which was on display when aiding the Black Knights to an 8-5 record, their best tally since 1996, all while battling through the loss of their late brother, which still resonates with King today.
“It [Jackson’s death] teaches you that life could be lost at any moment,” King said of Jackson. “It puts into perspective how short life could be, and how we need to appreciate life more often. Keeping his memory alive was so important.”
Army had just beaten Rice University 31-14 on September 10, a Saturday afternoon. As the team was getting ready to practice on Sunday, which King says were normally intense sessions, head coach Jeff Monken broke the news of Jackson’s passing, which reportedly occurred while driving alone on the road, hitting a guardrail and flipping over in Westchester County just before 2 a.m.
Practice was canceled until the players got together and decided to move forward with a Sunday session, which King labeled as “therapeutic” in the Players Tribune, saying Jackson would’ve appreciated it.
As the season went on, Army kept Jackson’s locker untouched, a symbolic gesture in memory of the late corner.
“He had great character and was always smiling,” King told this paper. “He was such an inspiring person. We’re actually having a charity/fundraiser type of event soon to raise awareness and help his family. It’s important to do things like that to keep his spirit alive.”
While King maintains the hope of hearing his name called during draft week, he remembers Jackson’s impact, which will last with him and the Army unit for the rest of their lives.
“He was a special kid who meant so much to a lot of people,” he said.