The Steelers’ locker room is filled with players who have a deep appreciation for the military. Many of them have family members who have served, or are currently serving, in one of the branches, and their admiration for the men and women who protect our country runs deep.
Eric Ebron is one of those people.
Ebron’s grandfather, United States Marine Corps personnel Sargent Oling Jackson, proudly served his country.
Not only the late Sgt. Jackson served in one war, but he sacrificed so much, serving in three wars, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
For Ebron, he was more than a war hero. He was a family hero, the glue that kept things together for all until his death in 2003 after battling Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s been a while,” Ebron said softly. “I never really went back when he passed away to try and bring up old memories. I was quite young. We were trying to figure out what his illness was and why he was sick. He died of Parkinson’s disease. . And that’s what I’m trying to do now. Most of my charity work is because of him. ”
Although he never shared stories of his service with his grandson, his daily actions spoke of the man he was, living a life reflecting a man committed to helping others, to giving of himself. -same.
“He never really told us any stories about the battles he was in and the things he had to do,” Ebron said. “It was always you just felt the structure with everything he did and why he did it. Everything he did or said usually had a big purpose. This was understood with his background, his accolades and who he was. I think that spoke more than any story he could have told us. ”
While Ebron would have liked to spend more time with his grandfather, his passing when he was only 10 years old, he also knows how blessed he is to have survived the service of three wars, which earned him a special nickname.
“We were blessed and lucky because obviously if anything happened to him there was neither me nor my mother, there was no inheritance after he passed away,” Ebron said. “For him to serve and not just to serve, but to come home and live out the rest of his time after three wars. I mean, it was crazy. His nickname was Lucky. world called him because of his service and the way he handled it.
“Our grandfather was like our statue. People put the Peyton Manning statue outside Indy, the Shaquille O’Neal statue outside Staples Center. When you talk about our family, it is who you see first when you talk about us. This is how we were brought up and brought up to understand. ”
Ebron has honored his grandfather’s memory on his cleats in the past and honors him daily with his name, Oling, tattooed on his left arm, alongside an eagle and the words “Courage, Strength and Endurance”.
“The first name I had tattooed on my body was his name,” Ebron said. “This is the level of respect I have for him and the things he has brought to our family. I remember the barbecues we had with him, and they are very vivid memories, and they still have were the best memories when he was there.When he passed away our family kind of fell apart and you felt it.
“I have a lot of respect for who he was, and I feel like now who he was to our family. I have the greatest respect for my grandfather. He was a guy. wonderful. ”
While he might not have any war stories to share about his grandfather’s service, there is something more to him. He has life lessons that he follows daily.
“He had so much strength. You could tell he had the strength because when he was battling Parkinson’s, there was nothing he couldn’t try to do,” Ebron said. . “He would have a hard time doing it, but he wanted to make sure he did it on time and how he wanted. It’s just who he was.
“This was the structure that the service had placed him in. He never forgot anyone’s birthday. He never forgot to call on holidays. Everything in his house was organized and mapped out. You knew in what you were walking in or what kind of vibe you were in when he was there.
“Growing up, I have two older brothers and our dad wasn’t around often, but we spent a lot of time with Grandpa, and he was everything. Every time he called us he started with the same. What’s the right word and the right word was always hello, good afternoon or good evening. That’s how he wanted to start every conversation. It rubs off on me. When I have conversations with my wife, that it is the first thing in the morning or late at night, it always starts with a good morning or a good night. It is a basis for any positive conversation and that is what he has tried to bring.