DIAMONDHEAD, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday may have marked Frank Jackson’s first trip to Mississippi, but the Pelicans rookie guard certainly made it count, sharing his story with physical therapy patients at the Ochsner Mississippi Clinic in Diamondhead.
“It was awesome to see them spread out, instead of staying in the New Orleans metropolitan area, coming out into Mississippi,” said Gulfport native Joshua Albert, a Pelicans season ticket holder who attends physical therapy four days a week.
“We’ve been through the same things. We’ve been through the same struggles. The same lows and the same highs," Jackson said. "To come here and just hear their stories and to be able to tell mine is really cool.”
Drafted by the Pelicans after one season at Duke, recurring foot injuries sidelined Jackson for the entirety of the 2017-18 season. However, through perseverance - and physical therapy - Jackson is finally living out his dream, playing out his rookie year and making an impact on the court for New Orleans.
“It was tough, I wasn’t able to play the sport I loved," said Jackson, who averages 7.1 points in 17.6 minutes per game with the Pelicans. "But, at the end of the day, it taught me so much about battling back and working at my body personally so that I can play as long as I want to.”
That message hit home for Austin Lizana. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma when he was 12, the Hancock High School senior attends physical therapy for a torn patellar tendon from a recent supplemental surgery.
He says when the going gets rough, this die-hard Pelicans fan can reflect on Jackson’s message to power through.
“Everything that he’s been through with his faith and everything that’s happened with his foot, for somebody like me, it’s just super inspiring,” Lizana said.
“Everyone’s story is different," Jackson said. “As we come together and share our different experiences, what made us stronger, maybe what didn’t work for us, we can come together.”