CHAMPAIGN -- An area high school family is coping with loss. Joe Jackson-Parks graduated from Central High School in May. Saturday, the 18-year old died in a car crash. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has more.
Jackson-Parks was an athlete who was well-known and well-liked at Central. Many people here are having a hard time dealing with his death.
His friends simply know him as Joe-Jack. The big offensive lineman had a heart of gold and a smile which could light up the room.
"If life were a football game, Joe started off with fourth and 50 and never complained."
Instead of complaining, Joe-Jack approached his life like the start of any football game. First and ten.
"It was a way for him to get his aggression out because his personal life was so jacked up. He never had family support."
Friends say both parents had a hard time dealing with drug and alcohol abuse.
"All along, he was just searching for the love that he needed that his family wouldn't give to him."
So, Norrlyn-Michael Allen and the other 35 guys on the football team became his family. Two years ago, a former Central High School teacher became his legal guardian.
"They say everybody was put here for a reason. Joe was the type of person to keep other people going."
Allen couldn't believe it when he realized he lost his mentor, friend and brother, but he knows what Joe-Jack would want him to do.
"We all inspired each other and Joe, as sad as it is, I know, he would want us to keep pushing and keep going and it's a lot of things he wanted to fulfill in life."
"One of Joe's biggest dreams was to be able to play some college football."
And he did. Jackson-Parks received a scholarship from Lincoln University in Missouri. He was a freshman there.
"Sure, he didn't have the ideal home situation and stuff, but you think about what that young man overcame."
There were a lot of hugs and tears being shed in these hallways.
"I mean, I love him. Couldn't be any closer than my family."
Central High School plans to honor Jackson-Parks with a ceremony. His funeral is set for Monday in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Jackson-Parks was the passenger in the car. Police say he wasn't wearing a seat belt.
CHAMPAIGN -- A former football player from Central High School was killed in a car crash. Joe Jackson-Parks graduated from Central earlier this year. He went to play football at Lincoln University in Missouri.
According to Unit 4 and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jackson-Parks was a passenger in a car which hit a tree about 2 am Saturday. Police say the driver was speeding, crested a hill and lost control.
Parks and the driver were pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities say Parks was not wearing a seat belt.
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