INDIANAPOLIS — "I have so much to accomplish, changing lives every step of the way!"
Edwin Jackson's Twitter bio is a short-but-sweet reminder of the person and the football player he always aspired to be.
And even when an injury ended his 2017 season before it even had the chance to begin, the inside linebacker remained positive and upbeat, and continued to focus on bringing smiles to those in the community.
Jackson, 26, died early Sunday, one of two killed when police say they were struck by a suspected drunken driver in a tragic accident along Interstate 70 in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis Colts released this statement about Jackson's death Sunday afternoon:
"We were heartbroken to hear the news of Edwin Jackson's passing. Edwin was loved by all in the Colts organization. We admired his outgoing personality, competitive spirit and hard-working mentality. He was well-respected among all with whom he crossed paths, and he will be greatly missed in our locker room and throughout our entire organization. We also understand that another person lost his life in the accident, only adding to our sorrow on this day. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of both men during this difficult time."
Jackson, a standout football player and wrestler at Westlake High School in Atlanta, attended Georgia Southern, where he became a tackling machine, leading the Eagles in stops each of his last two seasons. In 48 total games with 23 starts, Jackson posted 218 tackles (eight for a loss) with two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Though he went unselected in the 2015 NFL Draft, the 6-foot, 234-pound Jackson originally signed as a college free agent with the Arizona Cardinals, who released him during final cuts just before the start of the regular season.
But Jackson would eventually find a permanent home in Indianapolis.
Signed to the Colts' practice squad Dec. 16, 2015, he would earn a Reserve/Future contract by the next month, assuring him a spot on the team's offseason roster for the foreseeable future.
Jackson took full advantage of the opportunity.
After playing a reserve and special teams role for the first seven weeks of the 2016 season, Jackson earned his first-career start Week 8 against the Kansas City Chiefs, logging four tackles and his first-career sack in the Colts' 30-14 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium. Two weeks later, after the bye week, Jackson was back in the starting lineup at inside linebacker — and he wouldn't move the rest of the season.
Jackson, who started eight games in all in 2016, finished third on the team with 61 tackles, and would add two sacks, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits in his first full year of NFL action.
He headed into the 2017 season with a chance to once again compete for a starting job at inside linebacker, but after getting the start in the Colts' preseason opener against the Detroit Lions — collecting five tackles in the matchup — Jackson would suffer an undisclosed injury, and was placed on IR just before the start of the regular season.
He headed into this offseason as an exclusive right free agent-to be, and easily could've returned to compete for a starting job once again in 2018 and beyond.
Though Jackson had to sit out the entire 2017 season, he remained his usual positive and upbeat self, and continued to be a consistent presence out in the community. He went caroling with teammates at Riley Hospital for Children; helped outfit underprivileged kids with new hats and shoes for winter; worked alongside local police officers to teach sixth graders about peaceful living habits; and helped staff a drive-thru distribution for Thanksgiving meals to Hoosier families in need, among many other events.
Jackson had a way with kids, too. At the Cold Feet, Warm Shoes and Hats event, he talked about breaking one child, in particular, of his shyness and trying to get him to open up.
"Some kids, they've just been through so much at a young age. You've just got to be able to open them up," Jackson said.
"He had an animal, it was a fox. He called it Foxy. He warmed up and he put on his shoes and he loved his brand new shoes and socks."
And what happened next?
"Foxy gave me a high five," Jackson said.
So much to accomplish, yet changing lives every step of the way.
That's who Edwin Jackson was.