By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. This month, we take a look at Josh Jacobs and his remarkable story, a NASCAR racer being reinstated, and a new Monster in boxing.
Jacobs helps Raiders in first year in Vegas
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is having a great start to his second season with the franchise. Jacobs, who is part Filipino, has overcome adversity to make it in the NFL and is flourishing at his position.
With three other siblings, Jacobs’ father split from their mother when Jacobs was 8 years old. For some time, Jacobs lived in a hotel and/or in his father’s car in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Despite his hardships, Jacobs was a high school football standout, but did not receive any offers until the beginning of his senior year. Without any notoriety, Jacobs posted his high school highlights on social media in hopes that college scouts would see him. Sure enough, he received a scholarship to play at the University of Alabama. Jacobs split time with other running backs and withstood playing with a broken ankle his sophomore year. Still, his power and quickness earned him a shot to play in the NFL.
Jacobs skipped his senior season at Alabama to enter the NFL Draft. He was picked in the first round of the draft by the Raiders. Jacobs was the primary starter for the Raiders at running back and scored seven touchdowns on 1,100 yards rushing. In his second year, Jacobs picked up where he left off and is doing even better with five touchdowns through five games thus far.
At the beginning of 2020, Jacobs surprised his father when he gave him a home in Tulsa. Far from the times of having to worry about where they would sleep, Jacobs gave his father security for his future. The gift made Jacobs a hero to many as ESPN highlighted his deed in a television interview.
Jacobs gained a lot of Filipino fans when he posted on social media that he was hoping to visit the Philippines. He responded to a fan that his family is from Angeles City.
NASCAR driver returns from suspension after racist comment
After being suspended for 6 months for using a racial slur during an iRacing event, NASCAR officials have reinstated Kyle Larson. Larson, who is part Japanese, was required to take sensitivity training and according to a press release from the organization, he’s taken other voluntary measures.
During an online racing event, he used a racial slur in referring to a crew member, not knowing that his microphone was on for the public to hear.
Another member notified him that he could be heard. Larson meant it to be a private message. As a result, Larson was dismissed from his NASCAR team.
“I was just ignorant. And immature. I didn’t understand the negativity and hurt that comes with that word,” Larson said in an interview with the Associated Press. He indicated that he took accountability for his actions and said he had connected with former athletes to see the impact of racial injustice. He also hired a diversity coach and had conversations with Black racers, including Bubba Wallace. Notably, Wallace was the subject of controversy when a garage he was assigned to at a race was affixed with a rope tied like a noose. Although an investigation stated that Wallace, one of the few Black drivers in NASCAR, was not the target of a potential hate crime, it was suspected that out of all of the garages in which drivers were assigned, his was the only one with a rope fashioned like a noose.
Larson has vowed to regain the public’s trust after this incident. Since being exiled from NASCAR, Larson has competed in sprint-car competitions for the World of Outlaws tour, where he dominated the races. Larson was required to complete sensitivity training prior to competing.
“Monster” Inoue next big thing in boxing
Undefeated Japanese boxer Naoya “Monster” Inoue defeated Australian Jason Moloney on Halloween in a successful title defense of his bantamweight world titles. Inoue is beginning to make noise as one of the heavy hitters in one of the lighter weight divisions in the sport.
Weighing in at just 115 pounds, the 27-year-old is making a name for himself for his remarkable punching power—he has knocked out 17 of his 20 opponents.
Inoue had a decorated amateur boxing career winning various tournaments in Japan and in the Asian region. He turned pro in 2012 with the vow to never fight easy opponents.
The biggest fight of his career came against former “Boxer of the Year,” the “Filipino Flash,” Nonito Donaire in November 2019. Despite suffering a broken nose and a fractured orbital bone in the second round of their fight, Inoue won a unanimous decision in 12 rounds. It was voted “Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine.
Although the lighter weight divisions in boxing are not given the same publicity as the heavyweights, or even those that fight in the 140 or 150 pound divisions, Inoue’s fighting style is turning some heads among boxing fans.
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.