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Watch: Homeless D.C. Teen Balls out in His Return to Football Team

October 1, 2018

By Eyasu Delesa

A happy ending to a story with a sad beginning; Jamal Speaks. the 18-year-old homeless student at Ballou High School who was recently re-granted eligibility, balled out in his return to the field. 

Speaks had an offer to play Division 1 football but was denied the chance to play in front of college recruiters due to residency rules. 

After the story broke, a local shelter for homeless youth, Covenant House Greater Washington,  offered Speaks a home. A GoFundMe page also​ raised over $25,000 to help Speaks seek housing. 

"After hearing that Jamal was experiencing homelessness and at-risk of losing the ability to pursue his dream of attending college and playing football, I knew that CHGW had to help," the organization's CEO, Dr. Madye Henson, said in a statement.

D.C. Public Schools announced on Wednesday that Speaks will now be able to practice and play with him team, NBC 4 reports.

"With the best interest of the student and the entire Ballou Knights football team in mind, we are working with DCSAA to resolve this matter as quickly as possible," DCPS said in a statement.

The senior at Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy night school, appealed his initial August denial to play by D.C. Public Schools to the State Athletic Association and was cleared. However, just before Speaks was ready to step on the field Saturday and play in front of a Temple University recruiter, Principal Willie Jackson refused to let him play.

Principal Jackson was “advised of the residency concerns" but not given direction to sit Speaks, a spokesperson from D.C. schools told WUSA9.

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