Jeremiah Allison and the world he's made

THE BASICS OF Jeremiah Allison's story are well known ... an honor student from Los Angeles whose mom died just days before his first game as a Washington State Cougar. What's not so widely known is the ball coach who became like a father to him. Or his plans for law school. Or the joy he gets from talking about his mom.

When he's not studying, working out or knocking heads as a Cougar linebacker, you can find the junior-to-be playing chess, dominoes or a little Madden Football.

Allison, simply put, is an interesting guy. He speaks with confidence, yet humility, exuding a maturity far beyond his years.

He recently shared his thoughts with CF.C on a series of topics, ranging from music to cousin Daquawn Brown.

CF.C: It seemed like you really kicked it up a notch during the spring. Talk about that.
Jeremiah Allison: Basically, it was a matter of putting it all together. Practice is something where you're trying to perfect your craft and the game is something where you can display it. Throughout those practices, I was really paying attention to techniques and trying to perfect my craft and get the little things correct ...

CF.C: As a veteran of this Cougar football team, do you feel yourself getting more involved in a leadership role?
JA: Most definitely. I had the leader role at Dorsey, and I don't mind leading at all. My little cousin is Daquawn Brown here, and I try to steer him on the right path as much as possible. I do allow him to make his mistakes because that is a great learning tool but I do feel like I do have to take on that leadership role and lead by example.

CF.C: Your GPA in high school was over 4.0. What kinds of classes were you taking?
JA: I was taking Advanced Placement classes. Dorsey High School is a Law Magnet, and I've always been fascinated with law, so I got a chance to practice the law early and just know the basics of it. I started getting straight A's in my sixth-grade year of middle school, and I realized that came with rewards. My mom really rewarded me for my academic excellence, and as time went on, it became a challenge because my sister would say, "You can't get straight A's in seventh grade." So I did it in the seventh grade. She would say, "He can't get straight A's in eighth grade, Mom." It became a constant challenge within myself, but then the rewards stopped coming, but I had to keep it up because it was now a lifestyle. I've always felt education was the key to success, and knowledge is very useful so it just became a routine for me.

CF.C: Have you considered going to law school?
JA: Yes, that is my goal. Right now, I'm majoring in criminal justice and political science with a minor in communication. I came in contact with a lot of lawyers and individuals who have taken the bar and actually passed it on the first time so I've surrounded myself with those who I'm trying to be similar to.

CF.C: There has been some talk about you being a contender for a Rhodes Scholarship in the future. With school being so important to you, what does that mean to you?
JA: It is truly a blessing. One thing that my mom really stressed to me was education, and knowledge being the key to success…Being a Rhodes scholar is something that is very wonderful. Just the fact that we're student-athletes, student being first, and I really take pride in being a student.

CF.C: When you were going through high school, how did you balance getting such good grades with playing sports?
JA: One thing I did is that I utilized my time properly. For instance, we were given a nutrition break and a lunch break, so on those breaks, I would try to knock out as much work as possible, and start on the next week's work if I can. I just utilized my time properly.

CF.C: Talk about your life growing up in Los Angeles.
JA: I was born in Minneapolis, Minn., and I moved to Los Angeles, Calif., when I was 6-years-old. The point of it was to go out there and help my grandma because she was kind of sick, so my mother wanted to be closer to her. I started playing football when I was 7-years-old. It was a predominantly "Blood" neighborhood, so to speak, so I was surrounded by gangs my whole life, but I chose to take another path. My mother kept me grounded in the church …I chose to go to Dorsey High School, which is on the west side so my voyage consisted of traveling through maybe 10 different "Bloods and Crips" neighborhoods a day. As you can tell, I had to know my way through the streets of L.A., and I got a chance to meet people and a lot of people knew who I was just based on my football career at Dorsey, and my grades. One thing I said I wanted to do was be a product of my community and a role model. I wanted to let that child know, who was approaching the crossroads of positive and negative things, that there is something different, and there is much more out there to the world than just what they see. I wanted to let them know that flowers do grow from concrete.

CF.C: When you moved to that neighborhood, were you scared at all when you were growing up?
JA: It wasn't a matter of being scared. It was a matter of taking my "bitter" and making it "sweeter," and using it as fuel. One thing I always said was that I'm going to move my mom out of that situation because it was something that we did because that's what we were limited to. I just used it as a motivational tool and it wasn't the fact that I was scared. It was just a matter of it was my living condition. With that, it became very powerful for me because I was well-balanced. Even though I was an intellectual, I also had the street-smarts in me as well.

CF.C: What made you choose football when you were growing up?
JA: What happened was, when I was 6 and it was my first year in California, I went to my little cousin's football game and it was raining. I just fell in love with football. I was like, "Wow, I can hit people." And the next year, I told my mom I want to play football. She always wanted to keep us active in all sports, which was our way of staying busy as well so when I went out for football, I just fell in love with it. My coach, who I still keep in touch with, Lonnie Pumphrey, started coaching me when I was 7. He coached me all the way through high school and he broke down the game of football --- that it's not just a game, it's a way of living. You can apply a lot of football to life.

CF.C: Would you view Coach Pumphrey as one of the biggest role models in your life?
JA: Yes, he's like a father figure to me, and he is a huge inspiration.

CF.C: What makes you really mad?
JA: I don't like being called a liar. When I'm telling the truth, I hate being called a liar. If someone has a set mindset that I'm not telling the truth, and I know I'm telling the truth, it really irks me.

CF.C: What do you listen to before games?
JA: One song I listen to is "A Song for Mama," which is by Boyz II Men, because my mother is a huge inspiration for me when it came to football. My mom never missed one of my games.

CF.C: During your first year with WSU, how did you cope with losing your mom?
JA: One thing that helped me through that process was the support base here. My mom actually went into a coma Dec. 14, 2011, which was wrapping my first semester of my senior year. She stayed in a reduced coma from Dec. 14 all the way to Aug. 23, so basically I was living the college lifestyle before I even got to college. That's what actually prepared me, and I got stronger and I had the opportunity of thinking about living without my mother even though she was still technically on Earth, it was just a matter of getting in my mind that I have to be strong. When I got here (in June), she was still in a reduced coma, and Coach Simmons was the excellent coach through it because he lost his mom as well. When I lost my mom on Aug. 23, he just coached me through the whole situation. He let me know how things were going to go and why I was feeling the way I was feeling. He just was a really good coach.

CF.C: Has it gotten any easier as you've gotten older and time has passed since losing your mom?
JA: Something like that, you just get through it. You don't get over it. You could be 100 years old and you lose your mom, it's going to impact you the same way. I wouldn't say it got easier; however, I just found ways to cope with it. The more I talk about it, the better it gets. Some people don't feel like I want to talk about it, but it actually makes me feel better.

CF.C: What did you admire about her the most?
JA: I would have to say her resilience. She moved us from Minnesota to Los Angeles, she's a single parent, and she raised three kids on her own. Just the toughness that she had and the big heart that she had. She was not a selfish person. She was a selfless person. She always attempted to help anyone who was in need, and that's one thing that I do…If you need anything from me, you can come and ask me for it. I can provide it for you. It's not a problem. I just feel like God put me in a position to be a blessing to others. I always wanted to be a person who was a role model, and I wanted to be someone who, if an individual was thinking of giving up, they would look at my life and be like, "You're the reason why I didn't give up."

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