High school AD, teachers say DeSean Jackson wasn't in gang

DeSean Jackson may be a lot of things, but a gang member doesn't appear to be one of them. (USATSI)
DeSean Jackson may be a lot of things, but a gang member doesn't appear to be one of them. (USATSI)

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DeSean Jackson's high school athletic director and counselor are the latest to come forward and say the NFL wide receiver doesn't have any gang affiliations, which was originally alleged in a NJ.com story last week.

"DeSean is a great guy -- he was a sweet kid when he was in high school, always very polite and respectful with me," said Debbie Hughes, Jackson's counselor at Long Beach Poly, according to the PressTelegram.com. "There was no gang activity with him. He wasn't in a gang. That's not to say other students weren't, but DeSean definitely wasn’t one of them."

Rob Shock, the Poly AD added: "Every single year during his bye week he comes back and talks to the kids and goes to a game. He’s always had a big heart -- it just feels like somebody out there is trying to tear him down. ... DeSean hasn’t done anything, he hasn’t committed any crimes."

Former Poly coach Raul Lara was quoted in the NJ.com story as saying Jackson "started to hang around some not-so-good people" after his father died, said his comments were taken out of context and had nothing to do with gang affiliations.

"Gangbanger, what the hell is that about? He’s not a gangbanger," Lara told the PressTelegram.com. "All I was saying was that it was a tragic part of his life when his father died," Lara said. "He's not a gangbanger, I don’t know where they're getting that from, and I didn't say that he was. I was close with his dad and I know that when his dad passed it really hit him."

Jackson, who was released by the Eagles last week, issued a statement shortly thereafter explaining that he had no gang ties. And days later, the Los Angeles Police Department agreed, saying they didn't think Jackson was involved in gang activity.

Jackson is now the most sought-after player on the free agent market. At least four teams reached out to his agent shortly after he was released, and the Jets, Redskins and Bills reportedly remain in the mix for his services.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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