Muir football coach Ken Howard will remember Brandon Jackson for his smile and for his constant laughter.
He’ll remember Jackson for his sense of humor, his involvement in the Muir community and his willingness to reach out to just about anyone. As Howard said, “there was no one that Brandon couldn’t make smile.”
Those are the memories Howard will hang on to in the wake of in the 300 block of W. Palm Street that left Jackson dead at the age of 18.
Jackson, a junior at John Muir high school, played fullback and linebacker last year and scored a touchdown in the Mustangs’ win over Pasadena in the Turkey Tussle on Nov. 12.
“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” said Howard, who was informed of the shooting Sunday morning. “It was like losing my own son. It’s extremely hard.”
Howard said Jackson had recently started to focus on life outside of football, and had recently significantly improved his grades.
Howard added: “For a kid to turn his life around, 1.0 (GPA) to 2.7, it’s just amazing how he turned his life around — and for this to happen. It’s a sad day for us, and he will be missed.”
Howard addressed his team Monday, and while players shed tears during the meeting, there were also moments of laughter when they talked about Jackson.
“We wanted to send a message to the kids that Brandon was a good guy, bubbly guy; always walked around with a smile,” Howard said.
Howard described Jackson as someone well ingrained in all aspects of the John Muir High School community. In addition to playing on the football team, Jackson was involved in Mustangs on the Move, a local youth mentor program.
“Any program you could name on this campus, Brandon tried to get involved in it,” Howard said. “If Brandon could sing he would have been in the choir.”
During the team meeting, Howard also wanted drive home the point that revenge was not an option.
“Retaliation is not an answer,” Howard said. “To go out and get revenge is a big no in my book. It’s OK to mourn, it’s OK to cry.”
Unfortunately, Saturday's shooting was not the first to involve a member of Howard's football team. On September 25, 2007, Dion Holloway, then a junior at Muir, was fatally shot in northwest Pasadena.
Holloway's killers were sentenced last year to 60 years to life in prison, according to an account in examiner.com. His killers were described in the trial as gang members, while Holloway appeared to be someone who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Howard said the Muir football booster club would hold a meeting Monday night to discuss ways to help support Jackson’s family.
Anyone interested in donating to Brandon Jackson’s memorial fund can contact Deanna Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org.