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'He's having a breakdown'

Jackson nearly left Purdue

Lewis Jackson was done.

No one told him about this part -- when basketball season was over, when school was out and you're left alone in West Lafayette.

So he called his mother, Zinda Chargois-Jackson, and said he wanted to come home to Decatur, Ill.

Purdue wasn't working out for Lewis Jackson, who had just finished his freshman season for the Boilermakers.

"All my boys were home," Jackson said. "They were calling, 'We've had good games, been hanging out.' I was in summer school. If coach (Matt) Painter would have told me to come back in the fall (and skip summer school), I would have been OK.

"I've never been around a city like that. It's quiet, ain't really nothing to do. All of them (the rest of his Purdue teammates) are used to what they're doing. I'm just there."

So he called him mom and mentor Felipe Phillips, and they could hear the pleading in Jackson's voice.

"It was bad. It was really bad," Chargois-Jackson said. "I'm like, 'Lewis, what are you going to come home and do?' 'I don't know, but, mom, I can't do this. I'm sick to my stomach.' "

She tried to convince him to stay, telling him that eventually he'll realize that he had outgrown Decatur and he needed to adapt and learn to live in West Lafayette.

She offered to move to West Lafayette to be with him.

Phillips, who was a friend of Lewis' father and became an influential male role model in his life, had plenty of conversations with Jackson, too.

"Just hearing his voice, he almost sucked us in," Phillips said. "But there was a point he had to grow up to a man. He had to be part of a different family now. His time here (in Decatur) was done, and he had a new family to be a part of. I guess him being up there gave him time to think.

"He was starting all over again. That's always hard for a kid who is an only child."

Ultimately, Chargois-Jackson called then-assistant Cuonzo Martin and told him Lewis was "having a breakdown" and she needed help.

So Martin talked to Jackson as well.

So did teammates Keaton Grant, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.

And Chargois-Jackson kept working on him, too.

Eventually, Jackson relented.

Now, he's entering his final season as point guard for the Boilermakers and has played in three NCAA tournaments.

"I'm so proud of him for sticking it out," aunt Sonja Chargois said. "He's learned to live on his own and make right decisions by living on his own."