Exclusive: Desean Jackson Talks Joining The LA Rams, Close Friendship with Nipsey Hussle & Mental Health

May 27, 2021

Read the full interview on BallerAlert.com!

Desean Jackson will forever be recognized as one of the most talented receivers to grace the NFL, but the professional football player is so much more than meets the eye. Beyond killing it on the field, the Los Angeles native is a music head, writing and releasing his own rhymes since he was a little boy.

From collaborating with the likes of Snoop Dogg to releasing his own album last year to running his own label titled Jackpot Records, Desean is the definition of a go-getter. Beyond the music and his relentless football training, Desean is a proud father to three kids and recently started his own podcast called Fade The Booth. This year proves to be a pivotal one for Desean, as he heads back home to join the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. His grind mode and hustler mentality align directly with that of Nipsey Hussle, someone he shared a close friendship with coming up together in Los Angeles.

Baller Alert caught up with Desean Jackson at his podcast studio, shortly after he had on guests Dom Kennedy and Too Short. Read below as we discuss his roots in Los Angeles, why he started the podcast, what it meant to have Dom on, his friendship with Nipsey Hussle, what it means to join the Rams, the reality of his day to day schedule,

I heard you’re really good at this podcast shit, Dom’s team said you were great.  

It’s been cool, been getting into it a little bit. Just being natural, I’ve been having the camera in my face my whole life so this shit is second nature to me. Doing something I have a passion for and at the same time, I love it.

When did you know you wanted to have your own podcast? 

It really came up 6 months ago. I was at the crib and I had an injury last year that broke my season. Man, what’s something I could do where I could still stay relevant? It could be like work, but ain’t no real work. It’s talking shit, having fun. Really letting our viewers know that people of status are regular people. Stars, celebrities, whatever you want to call it, we regular people. We all come from the bottom and try to make it, it’s really the hard work and dedication I look at.

Growing up in LA, did you think you’d be here where you are today? 

Honestly, I always had a mindset that anything was possible. I knew I had to work for it. I always want to do what’s right. I didn’t want no handouts. I didn’t want nobody to give me anything. Putting work in, putting my best foot forward. Whatever it was in life that I wanted to do, I was going to accomplish it. To answer the question, yeah.

How does it feel to be one of the most talented receivers in NFL history?

I mean, I ain’t done yet. I feel good, I’ve accomplished a lot of great things, but I’m still pushing the pedal there. I’m still in high-shape form and I’m still trying to finish at a high level. For me, still, a lot of work to be done. I want to still get my Hall of Fame. I want to win the Superbowl. I got accomplishments. Until I get them, I ain’t gon’ feel all the way right.

Where did you get this drive and work ethic? 

Me growing up I had my older brother and dad to look up to. I had a squad around me to push me to be great and to work. For me, it was a mental saying: anything I want to do, I’ma do it.

Talk about your new season at home, joining the Rams. How has that whole experience been? 

It’s been positive. To come back home and play for the Rams, it’s business. LA is home for me, so I don’t want to get into a position where I’m hanging out or doing extracurricular activities. My focus is very thin, straight to the point. I came back for business. I want to work. I want to win. The last few years have been a hard struggle ’cause I haven’t had really good winning seasons. This year being a part of the Rams, they got a very good team. They’ve been in the playoffs the past 4 to 5 years, just excited about the opportunity and ready to get going.

What is the reality of football practice? 

Aw shit, the reality is it’s a lot of work. It’s an 8 to 5. I don’t think people really understand it’s real work.

That’s how many hours you be working out?

For sure. Fuck working out, you be in meetings, you go workout. You go back to meetings. That shit’s nonstop. 3, 4 days out the week, you’re in the building a majority all day. It’s a steady grind, a steady hustle. I wouldn’t change it for nothing. You get to go to work doing something you love to do and get paid a lot of money, shit ain’t nothing better.

What about days you don’t feel like working out, what do you do? 

That’s a good question, you gotta push through that shit. You gotta think, somebody else feels how you feel. Being a professional, you’re going to give in or you’re going to get out what you need to get out. Because if you go in like “damn, I don’t feel like working out,” but you got whoever the next receiver is that will put in more work. If I cheat myself and I don’t put my work in, somebody else got one up on me.

Noor told me that you were friends with Nipsey, everything you’re saying is similar to his mindset, his grind. Talk about how you guys met and the relationship you guys shared. 

Shit man Nip, I go back damn near middle school. Probably 13 years old. Being from Leimert Park and remembering Nip as the little pretty boy, curly hair, fly young cat, that grew up tough, but still always had a passion for music when he’s young. For me, seeing him go every step of the way is very similar to me on a football field, but he was transitioning and doing music.

We both come from South Central. I’m Leimert Park, he’s Crenshaw and Slauson. We both had a vision that we wanted to make it. Coming from where we come from, it wasn’t really a lot of people that made it out of the areas we came from. To be longevity and to sustain this long career, there’s not really too many people that’s done what I’ve done, coming from where I came from. I had a mission and I want to accomplish my mission. And I ain’t done, I’m still going.

You do a lot in music as well, talk about recording your own music. 

For sure, I’ve been in music for 10 years. Starting off rapping, messing around with me and my boys. Then it went to signing artists and having artists on the Jackpot. Now where we are, I got a few young talented artists. We’re looking to release them pretty soon, coming this summer. Jackpot gon’ make some noise.

Was it ever music with you and Nip? 

Nah, see Nip knew I did the music because I actually signed one of his artists. He had Kid Cali who passed away, he got killed at a party. Kid Cali used to be running with All Money In, he was under Nip. He ended up meeting with me, Kid Cali came with me and I signed him. Nip always knew I had the music and did music but Nip was so focused on his grind and his music. We had envisioned to do music together, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Unfortunately, he lost his life.  

What was your reaction to Nipsey’s death? 

Aw shit man, that heartfelt…that was sick. The whole city, the whole hood, the whole world felt that. Nip was a good person. He had good intentions, a good heart. What happened to him definitely shouldn’t have happened to him. Everything happens, you gotta cope with it. You’ll never forget about it or don’t remember what he did for the city and the hood, ‘cause he gave a lot of opportunities to a lot of people. He definitely was a special one.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. How are you holding up with everything? 

Honestly, I appreciate you asking. People asking and people caring honestly means more than anything. A lot of times, people don’t really check on people or ask. Your loved ones, telling people you love them. People go through a lot of things that you’d never know what somebody is going through, coping or dealing with.  

I’ve been saying that. Glad you said that.

For me honestly, I meditate. Focus on my breaths, taking the anxiety away. Your mind is a powerful tool. You could be thinking something but not really feeling it, and your mind gon’ have you feeling that. I try to control my mind, try to stay as positive as possible when things get down and out. It can be the worst of the worst, you gotta figure out some positive out of that bad. Being a professional athlete, being a celebrity, being a person that’s taking care of everything, that shit can get very overwhelming. I try to work on my inner peace and relieve that, stop trying to make sure everybody is straight and worry about me. “Oh I gotta do this, I gotta take care of this.” After a while, you look up like damn, where will it be time for yourself? You go through a whole 24 hours and 22 hours out the day, you checking on everybody else. You only got 2 hours for yourself, so just reversing that.

You’re a father too, you got kids to take care of. How’s fatherhood been, especially during the pandemic?

For me, that’s the best thing. That’s my escape. That’s my getaway. I could be having the worst day or the most fucked up day in the world, I‘ma go chill with my kids, love my kids, and give them that energy. ‘Cause they innocent, yo kids innocent. They don’t have no clue with anything. They’re being a little kid. They’re a resemblance of you, they’re a mini-you.

How old are they? 

Five and two, but about to be six and three. I have an 11-year-old too. It’s changed my life. The biggest thing is just showing them love and affection and teaching them right from wrong. Giving them the right example of how to be. Growing up, I was wild. I did a lot of crazy things, but now I have the opportunity to go show my kids the right way.

What’re you most excited for this year, as the world starts to open back up? 

Yeah, pandemic was a motherfucker. It was good because everybody really had to figure out what was your wants and needs out of life. What are things you can focus on when the world’s down and you can’t really do nothing. What you gon’ turn to? For me, I spent time with my family, aligned all my wants and needs. Putting my energy into positive things, really cutting off all the negativity.

I’ma need you on my show! Shirley’s Temple has a focus on mental health. 

Definitely. If you on negative energy or you on bullshit, stay far away from me. Me, I’m feeding off positivity. Light and energy, energetic, magnetic, all that type of stuff is what I’m feeding into. I’m looking for a great season. Hopefully, we could play and have fans eventually. Last year without fans shit was not it. I’m looking forward to fans coming to SoFi Stadium. Me being at home where I was born and raised, looking at the stadium with all my people supporting me.

That’s full circle as hell!

Yeah, so I’m excited. Hopefully I could finish my career here in LA, retire, and go out on top.

How many people hitting you for Rams tickets?

Too many people, that’s why I changed my number. I changed it fast. [laughs] People calling and trying to ask for favors, but you know who’s deserving. Everybody’s not deserving, but you got your people that are deserving. You take care of them and then whoever else doesn’t like it, shit.

What artists are you into? 

Honestly growing up, I was a big fan of Tupac. Still to this day, even though it’s been gone 25 or however many years. Crazy. Tupac, Nipsey Hussle. Shit Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, NBA YoungBoy. A lot of shit. Lil Durk, Lil Baby, Drakeo, it’s a lot of good music right now. I’m a fan of music. If you making good music and you doing your thing, I’ma rock with you.

Being from Leimert Park, what did it mean to have Dom Kennedy on your podcast?

We’ve met a few times, but we really don’t know each other personally on some homie shit. Having him come on the show was dope. You know, Leimert Park’s finest. I’m Leimert Park’s finest too. It’s awesome man. We talked about a lot of similarities growing up, relationships with Nipsey, just the mindset. He’s been in the game a long time, just like me. He’s transitioning how I’m transitioning: trying to help these young kids get into the NFL, he’s doing the same thing with music. It’s a lot of similarities, we pushing. We’re 2 dudes coming from where we come from, trying to inspire and give back to the youth.

Are your kids going to be athletes or musicians?

Honestly, I ain’t pushing them to nothing. Whatever they want to do, I’ma support it. I don’t think it’s good to force a kid to do something because that might not be their right passion. Once you find out their right passion, from there you push them to what they want to do.

I know you’re crazy busy, how much sleep you get?

[whistles] Man, not enough. I need to get more honestly. I try to usually get in between 6 to 8 hours.

There might be a day I go and get 4. During the season, I go to sleep by 11pm. Wake up 6:30am or 7am. It’s pretty good. I could do better though, I’ma work on it.

Anything else you want to let the people know?

Man, stay tuned. Jaccpot Records coming soon, got a lot of artists, Billy Boy Brody, Armonie Jaye, Ray Ray, Jit & Quan. Stay tuned. Fade the Booth podcast coming soon. Everything, we doing it up.

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