OKC Thunder: The around-the-world travels of Reggie Jackson

Thunder guard was an accomplished traveler by the sixth grade, and developed his on-court style in part because of his two brothers.
by Anthony Slater Published: December 24, 2013
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photo - Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson (15) and Indiana's C.J. Watson go for a loose ball during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson (15) and Indiana's C.J. Watson go for a loose ball during the NBA game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Indiana Pacers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

If Reggie Jackson could remember the first words he spoke, he probably wouldn't understand them.

They were in Italian.

“I wish I still knew (the language),” the Thunder guard says today.

But you can forgive him for not remembering. Northeast Italy was where he was born — Pordenone, to be exact — and it's where he maintained dual citizenship until his 18th birthday.

But that only accounted for a small portion of his rare upbringing. Thanks to his father's military background, Reggie was an accomplished globe-trotter before the sixth grade.

It started in Pordenone, living off-base and learning the culture from his Italian nanny. But the vivid memories don't kick in until England.

 That's where Reggie's family moved around his third birthday. And that's where his love of sports first sprouted.

 “It was fun,” he recalls. “I just remember following my brothers around, going to nearby parks, playing soccer a lot.”

That was the theme in those early days. No matter where they were, and they were a lot of places, sports served as the common thread.

Reggie's two brothers — Travis and Trez — are eight and 10 years older. But once Reggie could walk, he could play.

“He may not have been as big as us,” Travis said. “But in his mind, I think he thought he was.”

 That confidence served him well at the family's next stop. Because in North Dakota, where they stayed about a year, the sport of choice was a bit more physical than soccer.

 “Man, that was when I started getting into roller hockey, watching ‘Mighty Ducks,'” Reggie said. “I remember snow being on the ground, a foot tall in the backyard.”

 “Yeah, ‘Mighty Ducks' was hot,” Travis agreed. “We had pucks, sticks, the whole thing. But we messed up the garage a lot because we didn't have no other goals.”

 After that, Reggie moved to Georgia, his fourth home before his seventh birthday. And basketball really started to pique his interest.

 The family lived about 10 minutes from the military base in Valdosta, a South Georgia town with a population around 50,000.

 And nearly every day, the brothers would make their way to the on-base youth center to play basketball. Reggie was 7, his brothers were 15 and 17. But the rules were uniform, no matter your age.

 “No blood, no foul,” Reggie said. “Even if there was blood, probably no foul.”

 Those early games, he says, bred a rare ability to maneuver around the paint. As one of the NBA's breakout performers this season, Reggie's biggest offensive asset has been a great touch near the rim and natural feel for when to drop the silky floater.

 “I guess you can give us a little credit for that,” Travis joked. “He has a lot of war wounds and scars from playing that backyard basketball with us.”

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by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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