Adam Brent Jackson would have been ecstatic to see the basketballs sprouting in his father's cantaloupe fields earlier this summer. The basketballs were part of a commercial sports promo that will air on ESPN this fall. The money from the four-day shoot benefited a scholarship endowment at North Carolina State University in his name.

Jackson passed away last year during his senior year at Midway High School in an automobile accident, but his memory lives on in a scholarship endowment at North Carolina State University.

“He would have a good laugh as we did when we saw the basketballs in the fields,” says Brent Jackson, his father. The Jackson family — Brent, Debbie, Rodney and Josh — grow cantaloupes, watermelons and pumpkins near the Sampson County town of Autryville, N.C.

After searching for a location to shoot the commercial in South Carolina and North Carolina and other southern states, a Los Angeles production company chose the Jackson farm for the promo. The Jacksons consented to the shoot on the condition that the fee was contributed to the Adam Jackson Memorial Scholarship Endowment in North Carolina State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The young Jackson had been accepted to attend North Carolina State and major in agricultural business.

Only in its second year, the endowment already has around $20,000 in contributions and gives merit-based scholarships for undergraduate students, with top priorities given to Midway High students planning to major in traditional agriculture at N.C. State.

Brent Jackson says his family wanted to memorialize their son in the same way he worked and played.

A straight A student, he played the majority of downs on his football team at five different positions. He played center on offense, linebacker on defense and was the team's long snapper. He also played on the kickoff and kickoff return teams. He was named All Conference in 1999 and 2000.

“I just want to be the best at everything I do, win and have fun,” Adam Jackson told the Fayetteville Observer in a December 2000 article about his impact on the team. Brent Jackson says the article giving his son recognition was one of the proudest days of his life.

“He plays bigger than anyone else,” a teammate told the newspaper at the time.

“Ever chance I get, I like to talk about Adam and let people know about the scholarship,” Brent Jackson says.

Jackson never missed a Sunday at Union Grove Baptist Church for 18 years, his father points out. He belonged to a number of clubs, including the FFA, Bible Club, Vocational Honor Society, Beta Club, VICA, FCA and FBLA.

Back on the farm, he “looked after our warehouse for us,” his father says. “He did the inventory and shipping and receiving during the season.”

At one stretch, his father had to make him go to the house to rest following 36 hours of working straight. He traveled to watermelon conventions with his father, making many new friends. Upon his untimely death, there was an outpouring from the community.

“He is missed by the family tremendously,” Brent Jackson says.

The endowment has given one scholarship to a Midway High School student. In addition, the endowment gave a $500 scholarship to the 2002 National Watermelon Queen and $500 to the North Carolina Watermelon Queen. The Most Valuable Player Award at the high school has been renamed the Adam Jackson Award, the winner getting a $250 scholarship.

For information about contributing to the Adam Brent Jackson Memorial Scholarship Endowment, contact the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation Inc. at 919-515-2000.