Jia baby shower

Vincent Jackson Named NFLPA Community MVP

The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA will celebrate one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back to his community, and will make a donation to the player’s foundation in support.

This week’s #CommunityMVP is Vincent Jackson, who held a baby shower last week for 40 military moms. The event was hosted by his Jackson in Action 83 Foundation, which provided each mother with more than $1,000 in gifts.

Vincent Jackson is a man of many talents. The majority of NFL fans know him as the dominant wide receiver for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a Pro Bowler who excels at catching the deep ball. This knowledge alone, though, creates a remarkably incomplete picture of the man beneath the shoulder pads and helmet.

Jackson was a straight-A student throughout high school, graduating with a 4.1 GPA. He majored in business at Northern Colorado University while also excelling at wide receiver, graduating as the school’s all-time leading receiver. He was also a starter on the Bears' basketball team.

He is a savvy businessman and entrepreneur, having invested in an array of successful business ventures. Jackson even attended an elite business program for NFL players at the Wharton School of Business, one of the nation’s top business schools.

The foundation for all of this success, according to Jackson, is his military upbringing. His father served in the army for 21 years, and Jackson cites the structure and discipline that were tenements of his upbringing as key to him becoming the well-rounded, successful man that he is today.

“I truly embrace and appreciate my military upbringing because it allowed me to experience a world many kids do not get exposure to,” Jackson told NFLPA.com. “Traveling overseas, visiting various countries, and consistently having to make new friends made me more well-rounded as a person. Not to mention the skills acquired dealing with the adversity that comes with the military lifestyle. I had to learn to adapt to challenges quickly.”

In 2012, Jackson founded the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation on the principles of his military upbringing. The goal of his foundation is to provide support to military families, assisting them in the areas of emotional, physical, and educational health, and other needs.

Jackson cited his “passion for our service men and women” when asked by NFLPA.com about his inspiration for starting his foundation.

“I believe when you take on a Foundation personally you should have a true connection to the cause,” he said. “My mother and father both have worked with the military the majority of my life so it is near and dear to my heart.”

Last week, Jackson’s connection to his cause was on full display. He utilized the Buccaneers’ bye week to hold a baby shower for 40 military mothers, hosted by the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation. The event was an incredible surprise for the mothers, most of whom were new to the military lifestyle.

Kayla Ainsworth, whose husband is in the Air Force, said during an interview with 10News Tampa bay, "I'm a first time mom so I don't know anything. The fact that there's someone who would do all this for us is just awesome. I mean, it's amazing."

When the mothers arrived at the baby shower, they were greeted by beautifully decorated tables and served a delicious meal. Most of the mothers thought that this would be the extent of the event, plus a few small gifts.

“I think most believed they were just being treated to a nice lunch in a beautiful hotel with the possibility of getting a few knick-knacks,” Jackson said. “We totally loaded up their vehicles with baby gear!”

Jackson went well beyond what any of his guests could have imagined. He surprised each attendee with an elaborate gift basket worth over $1,000. The baskets were filled with a variety of supplies necessary for a new mother, including diapers, wipes, car seats, and strollers.

“Seeing the emotion and surprise on the faces of the parents was very moving,” Jackson said.

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Neil S. Schwartz

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The union for professional football players in the NFL.

NFL Players Association (NFLPA)

The National Football League Players Association is the union for professional football players in the National Football League. Established in 1956, the NFLPA has a long history of assuring proper recognition and representation of players’ interests.