Browns' Hue Jackson coaching with heavy heart after mother, brother died in recent weeks

Shalise Manza Young
Yahoo Sports Contributor

Mourning the death of a beloved family member is never easy. Mourning the deaths of two close family members in a short amount of time is even more difficult. But doing that with cameras tracking your every move?

That’s what Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is dealing with.

Mother, brother die in a matter of weeks

Via longtime Browns beat writer Mary Kay Cabot of, Jackson’s brother, John Jackson Jr., died unexpectedly two weeks ago, and his 83-year-old mother, Betty Lee, died Sunday morning after a long illness.

Tough times: Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson is mourning the death of his mother and brother while coaching his team in training camp. (AP)

Jackson’s agent, John Thornton, told Cabot, “It’s been really tough on him. He’s just trying to let football help him out.

Jackson hasn’t mentioned either of the deaths in news conferences with media, wanting the focus at the start of training camp to be on the Browns and not him.

“But to have two tragedies like this back-to-back has been really difficult.”

Lee had been sick for a long time, Thornton said, and Jackson had been traveling to Los Angeles to visit her. But his brother’s death was sudden.

“Losing two important people in his life in the span of two weeks has really hit him hard,” Thornton said.

Lee’s funeral in California will be next week, after Cleveland’s preseason opener against the Giants.

‘Hard Knocks’ cameras always present

As Jackson has been dealing with his own personal heartache, as well as trying to turn around the team that has won just one game in the last two seasons, he’s doing so with “Hard Knocks” cameras constantly around.

They’re on the practice field and meeting rooms, sure, but “at any given time he’s got two cameras in his office,” Thornton said. “He’s doing the best he can not to let his emotions get the best of him. He knows he has to be there for the team.”

Jackson’s friends from around the NFL, particularly within the Bengals’ organization, where he spent four years before being hired by the Browns, have offered support.

“The people closest to him know what’s been going on, and they know he hasn’t been himself,” Thornton said. “Being busy with football has helped, but it’s still been extremely difficult.”

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