For a time, while he was raising his future Alabama star of a son and four other children in north Tulsa, Marty Jacobs was unable to provide his family with any home at all. He persevered as best he could, though, including caring for and protecting Josh Jacobs as they lived out of a car. Before Josh became a first-round pick last year, he said admiringly of his father, “I don’t know how he did it.”
In Tuesday’s video, taken from Jacobs’s Instagram account and shared by the Raiders, he can be heard laughingly asking his father while in the new house, “Why are you trying not to cry, dude?”
Blessed just bought my pops a house 🏠🤞🏽💯— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) January 7, 2020
During his three years at Alabama, Jacobs spoke little of his challenging childhood, but a Crimson Tide communications staffer eventually convinced him that sharing his experience might help others.
“Being able to tell my story — which I definitely didn’t want to do initially — is huge because I can see that it’s bigger than me,” Jacobs said last year to Yahoo Sports.
Jacobs initially grew up with both of his parents, but they separated when he was 8 and went on to a divorce. While those proceedings played out, he went to live with his father while his four siblings, including one who had a different father, stayed with his mother.
When Jacobs joined his father, a dwelling the latter thought he had lined up fell through, and for approximately two weeks the pair lived out of a Chevy Suburban. Marty Jacobs would try to find a suitable parking spot for the night, but he also made sure to keep a gun handy, just in case.
“I remember seeing him not sleep,” Josh said last year of that period (via NFL.com). “It’s crazy because I didn’t notice that I was sleeping in a car. I was just thinking that I was falling asleep and waking up. I didn’t think anything about it because I felt safe. He would just drive around until he found a place to sleep, and then I’d get up the next day and go to school.”
Marty Jacobs found an apartment within a few months, but he also gained custody of his son’s four siblings. As cramped as conditions were there, space got even tighter when the family was forced to pack its possessions into the Suburban and spend several months trying to bounce from one bargain-rate hotel to another.
“I understood what was going on, but I didn’t think it was as bad as it really was,” Josh Jacobs told The Post in 2019. “I guess I kind of normalized everything.”
Even after emerging as a star athlete in high school and getting recruited by the powerhouse Crimson Tide, Jacobs found that old habits died hard, at least when it came to his overnight arrangements. He told Yahoo Sports that “just being able to sit on a bed and get comfortable sleep” in his dorm room made for “definitely a surreal feeling.”
“Every time I get in a bed,” he said, “I think, wow, how far I’ve come.”
Jacobs’s journey added another noteworthy chapter in his first NFL season, when he went from being a part-time player at Alabama to the featured element in Oakland’s rushing attack. Over 13 games for the Raiders before injuries cut short his campaign, Jacobs averaged 4.8 yards per carry, tied with Carolina Panthers star Christian McCaffrey for 10th in the NFL, while running for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound back tacked on 166 yards with 20 receptions, made the league’s all-rookie team and is considered a front-runner for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He was also hailed by Pro Football Focus as the first NFL back since 2006 to get an elusive rating from the website of over 100 while rushing more than 200 times.
Given his background, though, some of the most important numbers attained last year by Jacobs likely came in early July, when he inked a Raiders contract that will pay him almost $12 million in guaranteed money over the next four seasons, with a $6.7 million signing bonus.
Thanks fam— Josh Jacobs (@iAM_JoshJacobs) July 21, 2019
A father himself for several years, Jacobs has spoken of knowing his young son will grow up in far different circumstances, but also of wanting the child to “understand” what he went through “to the point where he doesn’t feel like he’s privileged or he doesn’t treat people differently.”
Of his son’s grandfather, Jacobs said last year (via Yahoo Sports), “He basically showed me how to be a father, how to be a parent — the proper way, regardless of what cards you’re dealt.”
On Tuesday, Jacobs reiterated on social media that he felt “blessed,” and he added, “I’ve spoke everything I was going to do into existence.”