Stephen Jackson has taken an active role in the Bay Area community since joining the Warriors. (warriors.com photo)
Nov. 14 -- If life truly does imitate art, Stephen Jackson's unintentional impersonation of Earl Hickey would almost be dead on. The Warriors swingman doesn't watch "My Name is Earl," but his life as of late has closely resembled that of the main character on the NBC sitcom.

In the television show, Jason Lee's "Earl" character has a list of all the questionable things he has ever done to people throughout his life, and he attempts to make amends for those events by doing something positive for those he harmed in the past.

Jackson, who has dealt with his share of troubles in the past, has no such list, but he does go out of his way to do good things for other people. In the last two weeks alone, he has been on a goodwill tour of sorts, visiting two elementary school classrooms, hosting a group of Trick-or-Treaters at his Bay Area home, appearing at an in-store autograph session and most recently participating in a team-wide effort to provide Thanksgiving dinner for more than 300 Bay Area families.

Talk about an impressive starting five. He has certainly touched a lot of lives during his five-venue excursion.

STEPHEN JACKSON VIDEO MONTAGE

For a video montage of Stephen Jackson's recent community events, click here. For more information on a particular event, see below.
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STEPHEN JACKSON IN THE COMMUNITY

Nov. 12 - Stephen Jackson and his Warriors teammates provided a Thanksgiving Food Serving for 300 Bay Area families in need.
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Nov. 8 - Stephen Jackson hosted a Reading Time Out at Lakewood Elementary School in Oakland.
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Nov. 7 - Stephen Jackson made a guest appearance and signed autographs at a Lucky Store in San Bruno.
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Nov. 6 - Stephen Jackson made a surprise visit to a fourth-grade class at Santa Fe Elementary School in Oakland.
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Oct. 31 - Stephen Jackson hosted a group of 40 Trick-or-Treaters at his Bay Area home on Halloween.
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"I have kids of my own,” Jackson said. “I know how my kids feel when I show up for lunch or pick them up from school. A lot of kids look up to athletes, so I’ll visit with them and let them ask me questions. I just kind of interact with them and let them know they can reach their goals and give them a positive vibe. Any time you could put a smile on somebody’s face, it’s a good thing."

But where Jackson and the fictional Earl character differ is in their motivation. A believer in karma, Earl is trying to atone for his past mistakes so that good things can start happening to him, whereas Jackson is not trying to erase his past, or even make up for it for that matter. At 29 years old, Jackson is the first person to admit he’s not perfect. He knows he’s made some mistakes in his past - just like all of us - and he’s aware of his shortcomings. As opposed to ignoring his past, Jackson has learned from his mistakes and is ready to move on from them.

That’s not to say that Jackson’s history is entirely blanketed with negative events, because that would be far from the truth.

“I’m the same guy,” he said. “I’m just making smarter decisions and being more positive now. Being the captain, I have to lead by example, so I’m starting to do that.”

His involvement in a couple of well documented incidents, as well the passion that he displays when on the court, has branded him with a public persona that is markedly different from the person who is admired by his teammates and those close to him.

For every misstep Jackson has taken, he’s taken strides toward having a tremendously positive impact on somebody else’s life. This past summer, he hosted his first weeklong basketball camp for children in his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas. Additionally, in May of 2006, he started the Stephen Jackson Academy in Port Arthur, a school for kids (kindergarten through 6th grade) that focuses on academics and fine arts.

Jackson's glowing reputation and admiration from his teammates, coaches, staff members and associates has prompted both ESPN Magazine and the San Jose Mercury News to assign writers to examine his 180-degree perception; how he is 180-degrees different in person than what the average fan at home would perceive him to be based on what they have seen and read (stories coming soon).

The Warriors and their fans caught a glimpse of the real Stephen Jackson shortly after he joined the team as part of an eight-player trade in January. In his first home game at ORACLE Arena, Jackson spoke to the crowd from halfcourt and thanked them for welcoming him and the other new teammates to the Bay Area.

And then of course there is how he is spending his NBA-mandated seven-game suspension to open the season. As opposed to filling his time between workouts by sleeping in and watching cartoons, Jackson attended five different community events in a span of 13 days (See Info Box Above). This wasn’t court-mandated community service either – it was Jackson’s choice to reach out to the community.

Stephen Jackson focuses on kids when it comes to reaching out to the community. (warriors.com photo)
“I do a lot of stuff like that anyway, but I haven’t really done too much of that here (in the Bay Area),” Jackson said. “When I got here, I was kind of new to the city. I just went straight to playing. I didn’t have much time to go out and see the city or interact with the people. So I figured since I’m suspended, it’s a perfect time where I can stay busy and do something positive at the same time.”

Jackson’s greatest impact in the community, both in the Bay Area and in Port Arthur, has been felt by local youth. Jackson tends to focus his community effort on children because, in his words, “that’s where it starts.” The values and lessons he learned from his mother while growing up in a church-going home are relayed to the kids he spends time with on what lately has nearly been a daily basis.

“A lot of times, these kids just see you on TV and don’t get a chance to touch us or talk to us. Anytime I can go to a classroom just to see 15 kids and put a smile on their face and sign some autographs, it’s worth it. That kind of makes their day and gives them motivation. It only takes 30 minutes out of the day to do that.”

The Warriors will soon be getting more than 30 minutes a game from Jackson. With just two games remaining on his suspension, the Warriors are looking forward to the spark that their tri-captain and emotional leader will provide upon his return to action on Sunday in Toronto.

And when he does come back, don’t expect Jackson to cross community outreach off of any list, as his days of giving back are far from over.


For more news and photographs of the Warriors community involvement, check out the new Warriors In The Community page.

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