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Young San Francisco football star’s house burns down, family dog dies

A fire on Ingerson Avenue displaced a family of eight and claimed the life of their dog, Jacey. | Twitter/@SFFDPIO

One of San Francisco’s brightest young football stars is in need after an explosion and fire at his Bayview home.

Balboa sophomore Jerrold “Fat Fat” Anderson had just left his house on Friday afternoon when a faulty burner on the stove exploded, starting a grease fire that quickly incinerated the building, according to his mother, Lucille Whiley. In minutes, all of their belongings were gone, and their 13-year-old dog, Jacey, was killed.

“Jacey was usually on the balcony, and on this day, she was in the cage, laying down,” Whiley said. “We look at pictures of her, and we just break down.”

The family was informed that insurance would pay for their Ingerson Avenue home to be rebuilt, but it’ll take upward of two years. Their belongings weren’t covered by insurance. A GoFundMe page has been started to help the family with costs in the meantime.

“There was a picture frame of my aunt and I that survived,” Whiley said. “It was full of dirt, but nothing was wrong with it. She raised me in Louisiana and died when my oldest son was 6 months old. When I saw that it was untouched, I knew she was watching over me.”

For now, the family of eight, including four children between the ages of 14 and 20, is staying in a hotel. Sixteen-year-old Jerrold is the third of four children. He made waves during his freshman year at Balboa, starting at both tight end and defensive end for a Buccaneers team that won their first Academic Athletic Association championship since 1984 and their first state championship in school history. Injuries to his MCL and PCL cost him his sophomore season.

“He’s gotten bigger and bigger,” head coach Fred Velasquez said of Anderson.

Lucille gave her third of four sons the nickname Fat Fat shortly after he was born.

“I came up with ‘Fat Fat’ because he was a chubby cute little baby,” she said. “He loved to eat!”

Originally, the nickname was something only Lucille called him, but it spread beyond the family and made its way to the football field.

Jerrold Anderson (87) starred as a freshman for the Balboa Buccaneers. | Courtesy Byron Lam

Entering his junior year, Fat Fat will be a name to watch across San Francisco and the Bay Area as a whole, having drawn interest from Pac-12 schools as one of the most highly recruited players to come out of the AAA in recent memory. He now stands at 6-foot-4 and weighs upward of 230 pounds, but before he takes the field in September, his family will have to navigate through obstacles that would have been unfathomable just a week earlier.

“It’s hard to process,” Whiley said. “Everybody’s been trying to talk with us, and we just brush them off because we’re still trying to figure out the next move.”

The family did have some sense of normalcy on Saturday night with a crawfish boil, a tribute to Lucille’s Louisiana roots, but the loss of their home and their dog has left an enormous hole.

“It’s just been so exhausting,” Whiley said. “I get to maybe sleep two or three hours each night.”

Jerrold and older brother Jalaiyah Whiley-Anderson returned to school on Monday. Whiley has said that the family intends to stay in the vicinity of the Crocker-Amazon neighborhood in the meantime so that the two can remain at Balboa. Youngest son Jaylon, currently 14, plans to enroll at the school in the fall.

Lucille’s oldest son, Chris Whiley-Byes, graduated from Balboa in 2020 and plans to enroll at City College of San Francisco in the fall.

For now, the family is hoping to restore some sense of normalcy and financial stability with the aid of the Balboa community, a community that had already embraced Jerrold before he had finished his first semester in 2021.

“At the Lowell game, all the alumni were out there yelling, ‘Let 87 hit something!’” Lucille fondly remembered.