Legendary baseball and football superstar Bo Jackson revealed he helped pay for the funerals of the 19 children and two teachers killed in one of America’s deadliest mass shootings in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Jackson led a successful career in both the NFL and Major League Baseball in the 1980s and 1990s. NFL and MLB League officials named him an All-Star — the only professional athlete to carry the title in both leagues — and is still considered one of the greatest in sports history.
The Associated Press reported that he and an anonymous friend flew to the City of Uvalde three days after the 18-year-old gunman carried out the massacre. Jackson donated a check for $170,000 and offered to pay for all funeral expenses for the victim’s families.
“I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old,” Jackson told the Associated Press. “It’s just not right for parents to bury their kids — it’s just not right.”
He said when the news broke on May 24, he tweeted a plea for Americans to “stop all the nonsense.”
“Please pray for all victims. If you hear something, say something. We aren’t supposed to bury our children. I’m praying for all of the families around the country who have lost loved ones to senseless shootings. This cannot continue,” Jackson said.
Jackson closely followed the news, particularly the coverage of the funerals.
“I know every family there probably works their butts off just to do what they do,” he said. “The last thing they needed was to shell out thousands of dollars for something that never should have happened.”
Jackson said he’s driven through Uvalde many times before, which personalized a connection for him to the city.
He said despite not knowing a “soul” in Uvalde, the town stuck in his mind.
“It just touched me,” he said.
When Jackson visited Uvalde, he and his friend kept a low profile and dodged attention from the media.
Jackson presented the donation to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who “quickly directed to cover funeral costs” to a nonprofit helping with Uvalde relief efforts, a spokesperson from the governor’s office said.
During a May 27 news conference about the state’s aid given to the victims, Abbott first announced Jackson’s charity as an anonymous donation. The governor kept the gift anonymous until Jackson publicly spoke it about this week.
“The true spirit of our nation is Americans lifting up one another in times of need and hardship,” Abbott said. “In a truly selfless act, Bo covered all funeral expenses for the victims’ families so they would have one less thing to worry about as they grieved.”
The superstar noted to the Associated Press that mass shootings in the country are happening regularly, and the last thing anyone wants to hear is there’s an active shooter in another school. However, he didn’t want to turn away from his donation.
“I was just trying to put a little sunshine in someone’s cloud, a very dark cloud,” Jackson said.
Jackson has donated to relief efforts in the past. The Associated Press reports he raised money for his home state of Alabama when more than 60 tornados ripped across the state, killing nearly 250 people.
But the Uvalde massacre marks his first donation for a mass shooting.
“It’s the children. … It’s the children. … It’s the children,” Jackson said. “If it doesn’t bother you, something’s wrong with you.”