Jackson, in an interview with ESPN The Magazine, said he knows people in gangs. But any implication that his hand gestures during games or on social media are gang-related is wrong, he said.
"If I score a touchdown or make a play and my boys at home can see me throwing up the area we're from, that's me showing them love," Jackson told ESPN The Magazine. "They weren't fortunate enough to make it where I'm at. All my friends wanted to be in the NFL growing up, but they weren't able to do that, and I was. That doesn't mean I forgot about them. They're my boys, I grew up with them, and I'm going to give them love."
Jackson's mother, Gayle, said her son's loyalty has always been unshakable.
"Those guys gravitated toward him because he had structure in his life," she said. "A lot of time I was trying to chase these cats away. I told him it would catch up with him and that people don't understand, so he should leave those guys alone. He told me, 'Mom, you can't treat people like that.' "
Jackson, 27, signed with Washington on April 2, five days after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles. At the time, reports indicated the Eagles were troubled by Jackson's alleged gang connections. This included an NJ.com report, which quoted a Los Angeles police detective.
"Those were neighborhood Crip gang signs," the detective told NJ.com, referencing some of Jackson's hand signs during a game against Washington.
According to the report, Theron Shakir, a rapper signed to Jackson's Jaccpot Records music label, and a man named Marques Binns were arrested and charged with a gang-related homicide in 2010. Shakir was acquitted in 2013; Binns, who said he doesn't know Jackson, was convicted and drew a sentence of 15 years to life.
The Eagles have maintained that the decision to release Jackson was purely a football decision. In his first and only season under coach Chip Kelly, Jackson finished with 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.