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jjJermaine Jackson continues the legacy of former Detroit baseball stars that have ingested the spirit of community and is acting on it.

Men like Willie Burton, Dave Bing, Derrick Coleman, Spencer Haywood, Chris Webber, Willie Green and Jaylen Rose, just to name a few, have all been actively involved in Detroit area giving, and Jackson is eager to add his name to the list.

The Finney High and University of Detroit Mercy star is a key figure in opening the New Jermaine Jackson-Cairns Community Center in Mount Clemens.

The Jermaine Jackson Academy will be run by professional athletes. Participants will be taught by a staff that has experience in the NBA as well as a number of leagues across Europe.

As founder of the Academy, Jackson has set as a mission statement: S.E.A.S. — Socially, Emotionally, Athletically and Spiritually uplift youth.

I’m not surprised. When I first came back home to Detroit after 23 years living in Los Angeles, one of the first baseball camps I went to was Jackson’s, held every year at Finny. There he cooked for the kids and held three days of intense basketball instruction. I saw how the Detroit youth responded to him and his positive urgings.

Jackson told me that he had always had a burning desire to share his blessings and help uplift other in his east side community.

Indeed, Jermaine was blessed, earning in 1995 a full scholarship to the UDM, and after four stellar years of collegiate basketball, he pursued the professional ranks. In the summer of 1999, Jermaine put his focus on playing for his hometown NBA team, the Detroit Pistons. He outworked his competition to earn a spot with the Pistons for the 1999-2000 basketball season. He played in the NBA for a number of teams, and last played for the Milwaukee Bucks.

He has also played professionally in Europe for a number of teams including in the Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Mexico and Israel.

His career highlights include leading UDM to the NCAA Final Four Tournament (where he earned MCC Player of the Year), winning the Italian Basketball Cup championship (2004), and becoming an Israeli Basketball Super League All-Star (2012).

On Saturday, June 23, the New Jermaine Jackson-Cairns Community Center will host its grand opening community event. There will be free groceries; Congressman Sander Levin and City Commissioners will be on hand; there will be live music, face painting, basketball tournament, hot dogs and refreshments; free health screening; and a videogamemobile.

Just before the grand opening Jackson will host Camp Jackson I for ages 5 to 11 June 18 through July 13, 2012. Camp Jackson II will run July 16 through August 10, for youth ages 12 to 16.

Jermaine has had success throughout his entire basketball career, but more importantly he has always been known as an outstanding person and a team player. His heart and determination has always been evident. His knowledge of basketball, his personal integrity, and desire to positively impact youth guarantee his success as a person in any community.

“This is all about the community and family,” said Jackson. “You don’t open up a community center for financial reasons. This is about giving back to the community and giving everybody here something positive to do.”

The Center will offer a dance program, an after school program with tutoring, a seniors program, computer labs, arts, and enrichment and culture programs.

“This is more than just basketball, this is a place that will have a lot of activities for everyone,” said Jackson. 

“This is just the start. I want to open up more centers around the area. I want there to be as many centers as there are McDonalds because I feel that communities need more positive places. Kids, teenagers, adults, I want this to be about family and that is why when the opportunity to take over this center became available, I was all for it.”

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com and twitter @lelstein3.

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