Phoenix’s Jackson is talented on and off the basketball court

Phoenix’s Josh Jackson started playing chess in the third grade after learning the game from his father.

Photo by Beau Bearden.

Phoenix’s Josh Jackson started playing chess in the third grade after learning the game from his father.

PHOENIX – Third-grader Josh Jackson decided to ask his dad a question one day after school.

He would always come home to see him playing chess and wanted to know more about the game of intellect.

Once Jackson learned how to play, it became a passion.

“Every day for about a month after that, I would come home and play him,” Jackson said Monday at Suns Media Day. “I’d never beat him, but he ended up getting me my own chess board. It was in a small little lunch pail and I used to take it to school every day.”

It wasn’t too long until other classmates noticed he was playing chess and wanted to join in. The excitement quickly spread to the rest of the school and it became a phenomenon.

“Eventually all the teachers saw all these kids trying to play chess,” Jackson said. “... By the time I was in the fourth grade, we had a chess club and I had almost the whole school playing.”

When it comes to the basketball court though, it’s hard to argue that Jackson’s talent is passed down from his mother.

“My mom was cold back in the day,” Jackson said. “She still has news clips of her in high school and college scoring 50, 60 (points). I look at her and say ‘yeah, you are my mom. You’re definitely my mom.’”

If it wasn’t for Jackson’s mother, there’s no telling if he would have ever played the game.

Jackson said she helped him get around the game and still, to this day, plays a role in his development as a player.

Just one look at his stats in his only year at Kansas and it’s no wonder why the Suns drafted the 6-foot-8-inch forward with the fourth pick in the NBA Draft.

Jackson averaged 16.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games for the Jayhawks.

All of his numbers at the college level are impressive, but he knows his mom was just as versatile of a player before him.

“She did some of everything, kind of like myself,” Jackson said. “She was a player who did it all – rebound, pass, shoot and drive to the hole.”