JACKSON, Miss. – He's a 19-year-old pipe layer; a deer-hunting, dirt-bike-riding former high school class president who still lives in his tiny Mississippi hometown. So why are the paparazzi hot on his trail?
Because Casey Aldridge is an expectant father — and the mother is 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears.
And to hear Aldridge's uncle tell it, the daddy-to-be isn't quite ready to join Spears — the star of "Zoey 101" and the sister of pop star Britney Spears — in the spotlight.
"I don't think they are ready yet to sit down and talk to the media," Odus Jackson, a pastor in Gloster, Miss., told The Associated Press by telephone Thursday. "They haven't gotten their heads together yet."
Jackson said media were already swarming the southern Mississippi town — with a population of 1,073 at last census count — in search of Aldridge, not even 48 hours after the news came that Spears told OK! celebrity magazine about the pregnancy. She said she plans to raise the baby in her home state of Louisiana.
Jackson, 71, said Aldridge left before camera crews descended Wednesday and was going into hiding. Jackson said he spoke briefly with his nephew, who also lives in Gloster but was often out of town for work.
"He doesn't want to say the wrong thing to the media," Jackson said. "At the right time he will speak."
It's unclear how Aldridge and the younger Spears met or where they spent time together.
Jackson said his nephew briefly attended a junior college in Mississippi but now works for a pipe-laying company in Baton Rouge, La. He attended school at Amite School Center in nearby Liberty, Miss., where he played football and baseball, principal Dan Brewer said.
Brewer, who was not principal when Aldridge graduated last year, said the teen went to school with his daughter and has visited his home. Aldridge was class president, and was honored by his senior classmates as "campus favorite" and "most versatile."
"He was just a super dude," Brewer said.
Jackson said Aldridge enjoys deer hunting and rode dirt bikes. His parents, Joyce and Mark, currently live in Tennessee.
"He is a quiet guy," Jackson said. "That is why it is going to be very difficult to corner him until everybody is ready to talk together on the same page. He doesn't like the limelight. He is going to hide as much as he can."
Jackson denied reports that his nephew and Spears, who was a guest at Jackson's home this past Thanksgiving, were no longer together.
"I think they are going to try to stay together," he said. "They certainly don't want to part."
Jackson said Aldridge has told family members that "he wants to go ahead and get married as soon as possible." Jackson added that the two do not want to "rush into it."