It hasn’t always been an easy route to football success for Alshon Jeffery.
The Eagles wide receiver grew up in a tiny town in South Carolina and never considered football his best sport, but now, one game away from a Super Bowl title, Jeffery is thankful for every challenge. And, more importantly, for the family that’s stuck with him every step of the way.
Here’s everything you need to know about Jeffery’s support system:
1. His Older Brother, Charles, Was a Two-Sport Star in High School
Athletic talent runs deep in the Jeffery family, but it doesn’t always have a happy ending. Jeffery’s older brother, Charles Ben, was a two-sport standout at Calhoun High School, just like Jeffery. And, to this day, plenty of people in St. Matthews, South Carolina are quick to point out that Charles was the best athlete in the family.
Charles played eight positions during the course of his high-school football career and, by the time he graduated in 2002, he had been named all-state twice with interest from UCLA, South Carolina and Arizona. So what went wrong?
“I had a great opportunity, too,” Charles Ben told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I just screwed mine up.”
Charles’ academic issues kept him from taking the next step in his athletic career, but his story served as a cautionary tale for Jeffery. Walter Wilson, Jeffery’s high school coach, called Charles “just as talented as Alshon” and made sure Jeffery came to school for one-on-one work with teachers.
Charles still has hopes of turning things around. He told the Inquirer he’d like to start at rucking company in California or even Philadelphia – that way he can still see his brother play football.
2. Jeffery Paid for His Mother’s New House
Jeffery pulled out all the stops recently when he helped design and paid for a brand-new house for his mother, Deloris, in St. Matthews, South Carolina. The house, a five-bedroom space with everything from an inground pool to a full blacktop basketball court in the backyard, was repayment for everything Deloris has done for her son.
Deloris has always been her son’s biggest supporter – no matter where he happened to be playing. Jeffery was a standout at Calhoun High School before taking his talents to South Carolina where Deloris drew headlines for the “Throw to Alshon” buttons she sported on gamedays.
Now, Deloris keeps most of her memorabilia in one spot – on a chest of drawers in her brand-new house. It’s covered in Jeffery’s highlights from throughout his career, a game ball from South Carolina, photos from high school and college and the NFL as well as several dozen trophies. There is, however, just enough room for a few more pieces of history after this year’s Super Bowl and Deloris, of course, is hopeful she’ll never stop adding to the collection.
3. He Decided to Play College Football at South Carolina for His Family
Jeffery didn’t start his athletic career on the gridiron.
He was a basketball star first, but realized he wasn’t tall enough to cut in the NBA and turned his attention to football, mostly, to get his friend’s off his back. It was a good decision. Jeffery caught 14 touchdown passes his junior year and another 14 as a senior and, suddenly, the colleges came calling.
Jeffery had his pick of choices – the University of Southern California, Tennessee, and, most importantly, South Carolina. The rumors swirled about where Jeffery would end up and even his own mother hoped he went to Tennessee, but, in the end, he picked South Carolina. Why? To stay close to his family.
Jeffery’s time at South Carolina was nothing short of dominant. He played three seasons with the Gamecocks, racking up 183 receptions for 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns. It was enough to draw more interest and he was taken in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.
4. Jeffery’s Younger Brother, Shamier, Also Played at South Carolina
It wasn’t always easy to Alshon Jeffery’s “younger brother,” but Shamier managed to carve his own path at South Carolina. He played in 10 of 12 games with two starts against Kentucky and Vanderbilt in his final season, hauling in seven passes for 71 yards. Shamier did his best to create his own name on campus and, more importantly, on the field, telling The State:
At first, I was kind of frustrated by [his brother’s reputation]. Now I’m out here doing my own thing. I ain’t going to worry about it no more. Alshon is Alshon, Shamier is Shamier. I was in the weight room working hard, I was doing drills on my own on the field. I feel more relaxed because I know a lot, more than any other year. I’m more comfortable.
Shamier was also a standout at Calhoun High School, where he suited up at wide receiver and quarterback. He threw for over 2,000 yards as a senior in 2011 and played in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach following his senior campaign.
5. Jeffery Considers Eagles QB Carson Wentz Part of his Family
Jeffery signed his name on a a four-year, $52 million contract extension that will keep him with the Eagles through the 2021 season in December 2017 and, according to the wide receiver, it was one of the easiest decisions he’s ever made. Why?
He considers this team his extended family, particularly quarterback Carson Wentz who Jeffery has come to look at like another little brother. Jeffery discussed the relationship after inking his extension:
The chemistry, just being one of the guys in the locker room…No matter what goes on, on the field, it’s our locker room. We’re tight. We’re more like family. The sky’s the limit for Carson. The sky’s the limit for this team. We’ve got to keep building.
Jeffery originally came to Philadelphia on a one-year contract in March 2017, but said he knew he wanted to stay with the Eagles “the first day I came here.” For the standout, it’s all in the football family.