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Godby senior basketball player beats the odds, earns college scholarship

Cece Jackson
Posted at 11:54 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 23:54:55-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Godby High School senior Clariona Jackson has faced countless challenges in high school, but through it all, she kept her faith and she persevered.

"I wasn't running the same, I wasn't diving on the floor for the ball again, but I hid it and I played my whole entire freshman year," remembered Jackson.

"As we got towards the end of the season, we noticed she wasn't herself," added Godby head girls basketball coach Chelsea Johnson Muir. "We were intuitive, things happen all the time so we didn't think anything of it. Of course, shortly after the season, we found out why. She was pregnant."

Jackson gave birth to her daughter Faith that August, just before the start of her sophomore year at Godby High School.

"I was getting up in the morning, making sure she was okay, going to school, taking a lunch break to make sure she was okay," said Jackson. "I had a lot of times where I wanted to give up, but I didn't."

Jackson pressed on.

"Looking down at her, I can't turn my back."

She made her return to the court, until she was sidelined her junior season with an ankle injury.

"We were in districts, playing Pine Forest," remembered Johnson Muir of when Jackson suffered the season ending injury.

Enter her final season as a Godby Cougar, a final chance for a college scholarship.

"I was running to steal the ball, and I stepped wrong, and I tore my ACL."

Five games in, her high school career was over.

"I wouldn't saw I was asking why, but I was saying why me," said Jackson.

With two little eyes watching, Jackson again, pressed on.

"If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't even be here," she said of daughter Faith.

"She became the person in weight training, in practice saying, guys, you have to do it rather it be for me, for you," said Johnson Muir. "All of us were sad for her, and she was the one rallying us to keep going."

That perseverance is what led her to Friday.

A full ride scholarship to William Penn University, and a chance to make life better, for her, and for Faith.

"I'm going to Iowa. That's 16 hours away," said Jackson. "Yes, I am going to miss her, but I'm doing this for her."

"I can't wait to see what happens with her next, as an athlete, as a student and as a mom because I know she's proven the fact to her daughter that God is not finished with her yet," said Johnson Muir.

Jackson said she is thankful for her parents for never turning their back on her, and said Faith will stay with them while she is in Iowa playing basketball. She said she's interested in majoring in nursing or criminology.