This was posted on GM.Thanks to Prophet2!!!
Great Article On Jamea Jackson
Winning spirit helps her deal with grief
Family pride is foundation for teen's success in tennis By Zack McMillin
The 18-year-old girl wanted to come to Memphis for the funeral, but it was all happening so fast and there was the plane to catch, the one taking Jamea Jackson to Australia.
Jamea Jackson's grandmother, Eliza Jeans Porter, had died on Dec. 30 and the funeral would be Jan. 2, at the New Wright's Chapel Baptist Church, off Knight Arnold.
But there was a plane to catch, a plane to Australia, where Jamea was headed to begin her first full season as a professional tennis player.
''It ate at me because I felt like I should've been there to say my last goodbyes," Jamea said. "That flight is so long, and you just think about it the whole time."
Her mother, Ruby Jeans Jackson (Mt. Pisgah High, Class of '67), says it had been a difficult few months for Jamea. She was also very close to Okechi Womeodu, the 16-year-old tennis prodigy from White Station who died suddenly in November.
The week after Okechi's death, Jamea had dedicated her victory in a USTA Challenger event to him.
That's how she earned her spot in this week's Cellular South Cup, the Women's Tennis Association event at The Racquet Club, and now, finally, Jamea is finding a way to deal with her lingering grief.
With friends and family and half the congregation (seemed like, anyway) of New Wright's Chapel Baptist watching, Jamea stunned the tournament's No. 2 seed on Sunday and won again on Tuesday.
This morning at 10, she plays in the quarterfinals, and, even if Liza's not here to see her granddaughter's breakthrough tournament, Jamea says her presence seems very real.
"She was just so inspiring ... in life and the way she lived it is the way I want to live my life," Jamea says.
On her official WTA player information form, where it asks for "Person most admired and why," Jamea honors her mother and grandmother in loopy handwriting: "They're so strong and smart and beautiful, and I want to be just like them.''
In some obvious ways, she is not like them at all.
No, Jamea Sable Jackson is unlike anything a black woman born in Memphis in the Great Depression, and growing up in rural Shelby County, could ever have expected.
Eliza Jeans Porter was proud of that, too, and before cancer took her in January, she let Jamea know it.
"The last thing she told me," Jamea was recalling on Wednesday, "the last thing she wanted me to do was get a house, 'so you don't have to depend on no man.' "
In Eliza Jeans Porter's world, a woman had to devote her life to other things.
Like raising a family.
She didn't bring up 11, like her mother and father did in that country house off Pisgah Road, but there were seven kids between her and her husband of 50 years, Marcellus Porter.
Jamea and her older brother, Jarryd, loved her homemade biscuits and country spaghetti most of all.
Liza spent 30-some years, until she got sick last February with esophageal cancer, with Robert and Susan Wilson, "as a domestic, is what we called it," Ruby says.
Robert's the president of WilsonAir, the son of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson.
"I can't think of them as employers," Ruby says. "They've been at every wedding and every funeral. They've been a part of my family."
Liza's children are testaments to the possibility the next generation embraced.
Ruby, after graduating from Shelby County's old Mt. Pisgah High in 1967, left for Tennessee State and then got a stewardess job -- that's what they called it back then -- for Delta, in New Orleans.
There she met Ernie Jackson, a strapping young man from her apartment complex who just so happened to be a star cornerback for the city's NFL team, the Saints.
Because Ruby and Ernie both liked to play tennis, they named their son, Jarryd, after a Swedish pro, and assumed that he'd be an only child.
When Jamea came along, when Ruby was pushing 40 ... well, just listen to Ruby's soprano voice rise another octave: "She was the surprise
To this day, Ruby and Ernie declare that Jarryd, now in pharmacy school, is the better athlete, but, if Jamea didn't inherit her father's height or powerful build, she got his speed and his competitive drive.
When she was 11, Ruby and Ernie took her down to Bradenton, Fla., to check out Nick Bolleterri's famous tennis academy.
For Ruby and Ernie, it would mean selling the house, selling their Burger King franchises, uprooting Jarryd, leaving behind friends and moving to Bradenton.
"You think maybe you are crazy to give up everything and she may not make it and then what are you going to do?'' Ruby says. "We said, 'Jamea, we may not be able to do this.' "
"Well, she started to cry."
"I want to do this, Momma," Ruby remembers her saying. "I want to go to the academy."
So they left Atlanta, bound for Bradenton and here they are now, back in Ruby's hometown. This morning, Jamea plays 15-year-old Nicole Vaidisova, considered the next
big star in women's tennis, for a spot in the tournament's final four.
"'I want you to know," Ruby says, "we have not been sorry, not one day."
When she talks about her grandmother, Jamea still can't stop her eyes from glistening, still finds her voice a little fragile.
But she is beginning to understand, as she puts it, "that she's in a better place."
Ruby likes to tell a story about her mother from this summer, when the whole family was back at the house off Pisgah Road and Liza wanted -- insisted! -- on making some of those famous homemade biscuits.
"'She was really tired the rest of the day," Jamea says, "but she was so happy making them, no one could stop her."
"'And I want you to know," says Ruby, "they tasted good."
It was, Ruby says, Liza's own way to begin saying goodbye.
And Jamea, tennis racket in hand, is saying goodbye the best way she knows how.
"I'm still dealing with it now," Jamea says, "but I'm dealing with it better." -- Zack McMillin: 529-2564