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Nice, inspirational read about AU signee Devaroe Lawrence


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Carolina High graduate Jamal Lawrence is hopeful that his story of overcoming obstacles on his way to earning a football scholarship to Auburn will help others succeed.


(Photo: MYKAL McELDOWNEY, Staff)

Jamal Lawrence was at Berea Middle School on Monday morning, telling students about his difficult past and how he was able to turn it into a promising future.

When the students had been dismissed back to their classrooms, Lawrence sat at a table in the cafeteria and spoke about his journey from one to the other.

"Everybody's got a story," he said. "Everybody goes through things. It's going to be hard. It's not what you're born into. It's what you make out of what you're born into. You've got to want something.

"If I can do it, anybody can do it, because I know what I've been through and what I've done, and where I should be versus where I am."

Lawrence, at 6-foot-3 and 278 pounds, addressed the students as a success, having signed a National Letter of Intent in February to play defensive end at Auburn University.

When he was a student at Carolina High and even before that, Lawrence, now 21, was admittedly a troubled youth.

"I picked up on trying to sell drugs early, just so I could have money in my pocket to buy for myself," he said. "Having sex early, being a parent early, just no guidance, really out in the world running around like a chicken with his head cut off."

Lawrence, whose daughter Tikiawana turns 3 today, said he had two brief stints in jail. He said the second was a wakeup call. "It wasn't what I wanted out of life," he said. "I wanted to do something. I wanted to be somebody."

When Lawrence was a sophomore at Carolina, then-Trojans coach Mark Hodge introduced him to Sam Kelly, who immediately took to Lawrence. Not long after they met, Kelly gave Lawrence a ride home after practice. "He asked me, 'What are you going to do when you're done playing football?' You know what I told him? 'Nothing.' And it haunts him to this day," Lawrence said.

"That means you stand on the street corner and you do nothing," Kelly said. "At that point in time, that was so much of his culture, he didn't know any better."

"He is making sure that that doesn't play out in any way, fashion, shape or form," Lawrence said.

Where Lawrence's past is concerned, Kelly said, "Jamal makes 'The Blind Side' guy look great."

Speaking of which, Lawrence actually met Quinton Aaron, the actor who played Michael Oher in the movie, one night after a Clemson-Georgia Tech game in the Tech weight room. Kelly is a friend of Eric Ciano, who, at the time, was Tech's strength coach. Ciano worked with Aaron in preparation for the movie.

Where football is concerned, Lawrence had no offers coming out of high school, so he enrolled at Greenville Tech. Without football, he wasn't interested, and he didn't complete the semester. He heard about a tryout at Georgia Military College, was redshirted in 2012 and had such a good spring that he received offers from Auburn and three other schools. He committed to the Tigers in July. And ever since that day during his sophomore year in high school, Kelly and his wife, Angie, have been committed to Lawrence.

"Growing up, I was so used to people walking out of my life when it gets hard with me, and I'm doing this and doing that," Lawrence said. "But they never bent. They never broke. It's like, 'That's our son, and we're going to keep you.' There's been so many times they could have turned around and walked away, and they didn't.

"Mama, she's a sweet lady. I adore her. That's my baby. Papa, that's my ace, my right hand. I can call him about anything. If I need anything, he's there. If I need to talk, he's there. But at the same time – let me see how we're going to word this – he's that backache."

Lawrence laughed heartily. It's a pain he gladly tolerates.

"I still mess up, and he rides me like no other, harder than coaches do," Lawrence said. "He rides me, but I know he means well. I almost want to quit and give up, but, no, that's the father I've been missing. That's the man I've been missing in my life. Even though I didn't have my biological father, it didn't matter, because God gave me a better one."

So Lawrence – Auburn lists him as Devaroe, his given first name – was at Berea Middle hoping to help some kids, because somebody helped him.

"With some help, a little push, a little kick in the rear when you need it, you'll get there," he said. "But it's all about want-to, because they can kick you, scratch you, punch you and claw you, but if you don't want it, then you're not going to get it."

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I hope he is able to succeed and be another turnaround story coming out of AU. Lambert grew up less than 15 miles from where I did and it would be really cool to see him excel.

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Thanks for sharing!

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We caught the piece on the evening news yesterday. It's great he's using his experiences to inspire the students at Carolina HS and Berea Middle here in the Upstate!

War Eagle from Greenvile, SC

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