A homeless student in Washington, DC, with an offer to play college football has been banned from his high school team over residency rules.
Jamal Speaks, an 18-year-old senior at Ballou-STAY Opportunity Academy night school, was playing for Ballou High School’s varsity team because his own school does not have an organized athletics program.
He previously played for the school’s varsity team his freshman and sophomore years of high school, WJLA reported.
As he stepped out on to the field to play for Ballou in front of a Temple University recruiter on Saturday night, Ballou’s principal pulled him from the game and threatened to fire the football coach if he let Speaks play.
Speaks said he has received an offer to play for Temple and that the university offered him a scholarship if kept his grades up this year.
DC public schools first denied Speaks the right to play football in August due to residency rules.
Speaks, whose father is dead, has been living on friends’ couches, and his mother’s role in his life remains unclear.
After the August ban, Speaks and his godmother appealed the decision to the State Athletic Association and Speaks was cleared to play, according to WUSA 9.
DC officials told WJLA that Speaks was eligible to play for any DC high school because his night school does not have its own athletic program.
But on Saturday night, Ballou principal Willie Jackson banned in from playing in the Southeast Cup in front of a Temple recruiter because of “lingering residency concerns.”
“I’m being told I can’t play by the principal,” Speaks said. “I don’t know why he telling me I can’t play.”
His team protested Jackson’s decision for 45 minutes before starting the game without Speaks, who doesn’t know if he’ll get another chance to play football.