Building Better Men: From Football to Nonprofit Founder with Demetrius Jackson

University of Miami football player turned nonprofit founder is spending his days showing young men their worth. We’re kicking off Black History Month at Lift U Up: Inspiring Health Stories by welcoming Demetrius Jackson, a guest who has a big passion for giving back. From organizing turkey drives in his college days to directly impacting young men in South Florida, Demetrius is dedicated to giving back to the community he was raised in.

A Pivot

Like many young men in Demetrius’ community, he didn’t always have positive role models growing up. He was raised by a single mother who gave him everything she could, something he was so thankful for. When Demetrius got to high school, he saw his ticket to college would be through sports. With a background of family basketball players, he took to the court for his first three years. It wasn’t until his last year that he made his first pivot. His coach discussed with him the idea of him playing for the football team, something he never would have imagined for himself. His coach saw something in him that he did not see himself, and Demetrius made a transition to playing football for the University of Miami. (Go Canes!)

Life After Football

Switching sports was not the only pivot Demetrius made in his life. After spending years on the UM football team (and learning a lot), a knee injury set Demetrius back. With months needed for recovery and a new coach looking for newer talent, Demetrius was forced to re-think football’s role in his life. He questioned, was he playing for himself – or just for the money? He chose to trust his intuition in this moment, and what felt right for him. He earned his degree, and set out to find a way to affect people in a positive way. 

Becoming a Role Model

Today, Demetrius is able to do two things he loves – football and making an impact. He began by coaching local high schools (and still does today) and is grateful to have that opportunity to be a role model in the teenagers lives. Then he founded Men of Today, an organization that doesn’t simply create “men of tomorrow”, but takes men of today and gives them the guidance and resources to create a life they are proud of. They work with men from grades 1-12, because being a man is not about your age, but your mindset. Demetrius and his staff guide the men through discussing college, teaching important life skills, and giving them a chance to see the world beyond their community. Their relationship with these men is an ongoing one, and they even invite them back to mentor the next generation of men. 

With this work, Demetrius knows he’s doing the right thing. Why? Because he questions it. Listen in to hear exactly what this means, and why Demetrius knows he has found his passion.

What else can you expect in this episode?

  • Why Demetrius didn’t initially want to stay in town and attend the University of Miami, but was grateful he did.
  • The story of how Demetrius organized a turkey drive for the holidays, and the importance of using his platform for something positive. 
  • Why Demetrius chose not to continue running for local office in 2019
  • The importance of having a plan.

Where to find Demetrius Jackson and Men of Today: