Bo Jackson is one of the few athletes on this planet who defied the odds and gave memories to sports fans to cherish forever. An actual living legend, the Hall of Famer’s rare success as both an NFL and Major League Baseball player makes him a gift that keeps on giving. And to recognize his impact, Jackson has been an ardent supporter behind the scenes until now, when he helped pay for the funerals of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the Uvalde school massacre in May.
Previously an anonymous donor, Jackson revealed his charitable activities in a conversation with the Associated Press via ESPN. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old,” said Jackson, a father of three and a grandfather as he nears 60. “It’s just not right for parents to bury their kids. It’s just not right.” The Uvalde shooting incident has been described as one of the deadliest classroom shootings in U.S. history. It has also become one of its most controversial, with police revealed to be culpable for the tragedy.
“I know every family there probably work their butts off just to do what they do…The last thing they needed was to shell out thousands of dollars for something that never should have happened.”
Jackson shared that he felt a personal connection to the city that he has driven through many times. Uvalde has been a regular stop of his to grab groceries or a bite to eat before a long drive farther west to visit a friend’s ranch on hunting trips.
That familiarity with Uvalde and its people touched his heart when news of the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary is what led to him briefly meeting with Gov. Greg Abbott and presented a check for $170,000 with an offer to pay for all funeral expenses. Abbott announced it as an anonymous donation during a May 27 news conference about aid the state was gifting to the victims.
“We didn’t want media,” Jackson said. “No one knew we were there.”
Jackson has not kept it a secret, but it wasn’t until this week that he spoke about the contribution publicly and what moved him to make the trip.
“Uvalde is a town that sticks in your mind. Just the name,” Jackson said. “I don’t know a soul there. It just touched me.”
Jackson did decline to name his friend, who also contributed to the donation.
Flashing back to the day of the shooting, Jackson tweeted, “America … let’s please stop all the nonsense. Please pray for all victims. If you hear something, say something. We aren’t supposed to bury our children. I’m praying for all of the families around the country who have lost loved ones to senseless shootings. This cannot continue.”
When the Associated Press asked him to elaborate on the “This cannot continue” line, he declined, saying only that he wrote what he meant.
“I don’t want to turn this into anything [but] what it is. I was just trying [with the donation] to put a little sunshine in someone’s cloud, a very dark cloud,” Jackson said.