A Valley teen who’s an outstanding student athlete is on the road to recovery. This, after taking a horrible hit on the football field during touch-practice.
Jamel Jenkins has a long road ahead as his head heals.
Sadly, his family is familiar with such head injuries on the football field. In this most recent incident though, two players at what's classified as "passing camp" for football slammed into each other without helmets on, and now one of them is in bad shape.
“He was in a lot of pain, I've never seen him cry like that before, just in so much pain,” Javoni Jenkins, his mom, said.
The hit crushed the left side of Jamel's face, requiring reconstruction and plates under his eye, in his cheek and his jaw.
“His head just hit him in the eye socket,” his dad, Melvin said.
They believe it could've been prevented.
“We talk about protecting these students athletes from head injuries and here we are sending them to camps where they're not allowed to wear helmets,” Melvin said.
The collision happened at passing camp without much protection. The parents brought up Arizona Interscholastic Association guidelines, but officials with the organization tell 12 News during the off-season, it's up to districts to really determine what protection players have to wear.
“This is something that we have to take serious now because this is something that I think has been neglected,” Melvin added.
Melvin Jenkins, a former NFL player, knows first-hand how severe head injuries can be, and how they can last a lifetime. After all, he suffered two concussions, with a helmet on. The second ended his pro career.
“I have my days, and so that's why I think it's something that needs to be addressed, especially at the high school level,” he added.
Mom and Dad say Jamel is in good spirits, even after multiple surgeries.
“He stills like, 'Hey, Dad, I can still go work out with the team,' and I'm saying that's not important right now, the most important thing to me as a father is his health,” Melvin said.
The Jenkins are pushing for change for all families.
“I don't want another parent to have to through what we went through with our son,” Javoni said.
The family has started a Gofundme page to help with Jamel's medical bills.