Up close & personal
Last Child of Barbara and Kevin Jackson, Justin Michael Lee Jackson learned first hand the hardships of life. His entire family was spawned from poverty and minimalism as foster children in the unforgiving streets of Brooklyn. "My father jokes a lot about it. I guess to make light of the obvious pain he feels", Justin recalls. "My pops says that after all the abuse and after all those years of disconnection, the state gave him $17 and a bus ticket to Albany, at the age of 17." Who knew that that ticket would be the beginning of an epic place in history? You see, there was someone else coming from the same environment, with the same goals and vision. “My mother is an enigma to the average world FAM. She came from nothing and no one and still possessed the drive to do great things. She earned 2 Masters Degrees and bought a home to raise her children in. She knew how hard it was to grow up without a place to call your own." Although his father and mother's time together was short-lived, it paved the way for invaluable life lessons and teachings in life. "My pops left early, you know. I was barely knee high! It's cool though. It wasn't his fault. I mean, how could a man raise a family if he didn't know what family was."
Early in life, Justin's family could see that normal wasn't a word used to classify him. His sister recalls, "Yo, Justin is weird... While all the project kids were playing outside, dating and fighting, he was chilling with the adults in the living room. He was always quiet too." His sister, (who requests to be called Reese Cups), "Don't call me by my government", stops and laughs. "It’s like he had a secret." His brother, (who was once involved in the streets and now a successful engineer) says, "Jus was never a fighter or a lover as far as girls went. He just was! Never raised his voice never had any real enemies... His energy was sincere and free." Although Justin had many friends while he was growing up, he never fully connected with his peers. Barbara shouts from the next room, "That's true! Whenever someone came to see him, he would always tell them to go home or that he wasn't coming out! He stuck to himself! That's my baby!" Throughout grade and middle school, he very seldom would participate in anything, unless it was forced. Although he excelled in many genres of activities, such as, judo, performance plays, and karate, he never gave the attention necessary to be the best. "I don't know if I was lazy or uninspired. People tell me all the time how I could of done this, or did that, or been there. Yet, if your heart isn't in something, it's bound to fade. I felt like something else was calling me." Unfortunately, what began to beckon is the common denominator for the destruction of the black youth. The Streets...
"I was so intrigued with the life. Just the thought of, if you want something' take it or just get money. This way of thinking is enough to pull in the most rational of thinkers. It didn't help that High School is peer pressure central." Things began to collapse in his senior year as he was forced to go to night school. "Man I was slipping hard. I felt so lost and confused back then. I suffered from depression and anxiety all day. God had to be watching over me 24/7. I was ready to die. True Story..." However, God had a way to slow down the spiral of his child... Justin was stricken with a severe case of scoliosis and kyphosis and had to have immediate back surgery. "I always had the problem, it just so happens that it became life threatening at that time. It’s no coincidence that the doctors finally approved the operation after years of fighting because we had no money or insurance. Yeah, you know God had a plan for me that I didn’t even realize at the time. There was a purpose that I had to fulfill and God made a way to preserve me so that it could be accomplished…ITS CRAZY!”
Fast forward a few years past the drugs and the money, miscarriages and abortions, going on the run and homelessness, letdowns and struggles and you left with a powerful testimony of a young man fighting to see a brighter day.
“A lot of people say, oh, I’m too late or I missed my season, I just tell them…
I’m Justin Tyme”.
Justin Jackson 518’s tracks