Jackson Vahue

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Jackson Vahue is a fictional character from the HBO prison drama Oz played by Rick Fox, a former NBA basketball star and champion with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Character overview[edit]

Prisoner 97V588. Convicted August 17, 1997 - Attempted rape, assault. Sentence: 12 years, up for parole in five. Paroled denied in 2001, but was granted parole in 2003.

Vahue was a wealthy, professional African-American basketball player when he was sent to Oz. He was convicted of beating a woman trying to escape his chauffeured limousine. It is implied later in the series that public perception of his crime was that he attempted to rape her. The script writers do not identify what NBA basketball team Jackson Vahue played for before his incarceration, however it is insinuated that he played for the Lakers, which was Rick Fox's team at the time.

Season 1[edit]

Jackson Vahue is known and admired by most of Oz's prison population as a superstar basketball player, and is welcomed by most prisoners of most gangs. He was a major role model to Augustus Hill who had watched his games when he was a young boy. Hill's perception of his childhood sport idol changes after meeting him in prison with Vahue's own drug addiction letting most of Hill's hopes down, and when Hill later catches him “roughing up” cellist Eugene Dobbins for no real reason. Vahue also is responsible for bringing Hill back to his drug addictions by way of peer-pressure. Hill later tells Vahue to “recognize Dobbins' talent”. This angers Vahue, who smashes the cello in spite of Hill. During the prison riot, Vahue is shocked at the violence and chaos and mostly stays away from the gangs. He seems to regain some respect, as well as some compassion when he carries the injured Dobbins to safety (with some insistence from Hill) during the riot, resulting in his arrest. He is severely beaten when riot guards apprehend the two, despite his heroic act.

Season 2[edit]

Vahue makes a minor appearance at the beginning of Season 2 when he informs Hill of Dobbins’ death. He is shown being escorted away from Hill's cell and disappears after that, presumably being moved to general population.

Season 4, Part 2[edit]

Vahue reappears in the fourth season playing basketball in the prison gym. He informs Hill of his early parole hearing. Hill is still upset at Vahue for betraying him years ago as well as nearly bringing him back to his drug addictions. Hill expresses his disagreement with Vahue's parole despite Vahue defending himself by referencing his attempt to save Dobbins in the riot, yet being cruelly transferred to General Population for his efforts. During this time, he is once again noticed by Tim McManus, who approaches him with another chance of coming back to Emerald City, on the condition that he beats him and C.O. Dave Brass in a best-of-three game of basketball alongside a very nonathletic team-mate, who in the end, is decided to be Agamemnon Busmalis. Meanwhile, Hill ruins Vahue's chance for early parole by informing the woman Vahue beat up and nearly raped of his parole hearing, to which she speaks in, resulting in the board denying his parole. Vahue becomes frustrated, and fights the COs at lunch and is consequently thrown into the hole. Once out and back on the court, Vahue and Busmalis easily win Game 1, and the prison population of Emerald City treat him like a superstar once more. However, Officer Johnson later hits Vahue in the knee with a nightstick in an altercation, severely injuring him for Game 2. Brass and McManus win Game 2, which has Poet and the entire prison population angry at Vahue (mostly because they bet on him and lost). Dave Brass was recruited by a scout who saw the games, to play in the NBA on the Sacramento Kings, but before he could go, Enrique Morales arranges to have his Achilles tendon sliced, for fearing of losing the third game and the series. With Brass out, Officer Sean Murphy steps into Brass's spot as McManus teammate and plays in the 3rd game, which Vahue and Busmalis (mostly Vahue) dominate and win.

Season 6[edit]

Vahue reappears in this season as a free man, having been paroled early off-screen. He returns to Oz to talk with young prisoners about his life, and surviving in Oz in general, advising them on their own difficult time ahead. When he denies Brass tickets or backstage access to games, Brass snaps and attempts to kill him at a game. Brass is arrested but finds joy in achieving some of the fame he had hoped to gain from playing basketball.


On audio commentary for the series finale, series creator Tom Fontana said that if Fox played for the New York Knicks instead of the Los Angeles Lakers, Vahue would have been on more episodes.