DeLand nonprofit founder coaches young athletes to success on, off the court

@12 Basketball teaches youth, provides community outreach

DELAND, Fla. – Sports can be a great outlet for kids to not only exercise and stay fit but to learn valuable life skills whenever they decide to hang up the cleats.

In DeLand, young athletes say they could now be better set for success thanks to their basketball coach who coached them in all aspects of their life.

Nathaniel Jackson Gym in DeLand is a place of motivation for so many young athletes to let their light shine and push through despite whatever obstacles come their way.

Nigle Cook, 19, leaves this week for the University of Wyoming on a full-ride basketball scholarship and Jermaine Rouse, 20, is heading to the Marines Corps.

“Just being a good person on and off the court and just pushing through every day,” said Cook.

“We talked about discipline, doing what you’re told, what’s expected of you and stuff like that,” said Rouse.

Young athletes play basketball as part of @12 Basketball in DeLand. (Chris Jackson, @12 Basketball)

They’re crediting their success in part to their forever coach, Chris Jackson, the owner of @12 Basketball in DeLand.

“I want to be that big brother, that father, that coach outside of basketball that helps them become young men and young women,” said Jackson.

Jackson is a former DeLand High basketball star who went on to play college ball and even pro-basketball in Germany and México. He now works with boys and girls as young as the sixth grade and pushes them on and off the court, even requiring them to maintain a 3.0 GPA.

“Some kids don’t have that extra push, or that coach or that leader to give them that extra push to help them conquer their dreams,” said Jackson. “We see kids go off to college, join the military or even a trade.”

“One thing that separates him from other coaches is that he’s a leader, so he doesn’t just tell us to do something that he hasn’t already done,” said Rouse.

Jackson says he’s all about inspiring his young athletes to give back to the community

Volunteers with @12 Basketball help clean up Nathaniel Jackson Gym in DeLand. (Chris Jackson, @12 Basketball)

Through his nonprofit, called Team 12 Basketball, Jackson and his players regularly take part in communitywide cleanups, shoe giveaways and so much more, placing a focus on service.

Jackson is a husband and father of four who is always trying to be the motivation for his own son, his family, and so many other kids.

When asked what gives Jackson the motivation to keep going and keep doing what he’s doing with these young athletes, he said, “My dad, my mom, all of the sacrifices they did for me.”

“I’m going to give back until I can’t give back,” he added

To find out more about Coach Jackson’s company, @12 Basketball and his nonprofit, click here.

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.