This fall, Philip Thomas will come play football for Syracuse. The six-foot, 185-pound defensive back will play for the Orange after spending the first part of his summer playing for the USA National Junior Football team. He'll be in a prime position to begin the process of turning a college career into a professional one, as he's always dreamed.
To hear how Philip got to this point, it's a miracle we're even having this discussion. Gus Garcia-Roberts of The Miami New-Times profiled Thomas the other day and it's an eye-opening account of a young life with every conceivable obstacle in it's path and how Thomas overcame them all.
It's difficult to imagine a less promising beginning in life than Philip's. He was born November 19, 1990, to a 30-year-old crack addict named Sylvia Thomas. He was the eighth of nine children she had by four men.
He barely knew his father, a man named Michael Byrd, who succumbed to AIDS. At age 3, Philip began living on and off with his Aunt Marion. She had fours sons, two of whom — Pierre and Harvey — were no role models. In August 1995, 16-year-old Pierre and three teenage cronies wearing ski masks descended on a convenience store in Allapattah. Pierre, armed with a .35-caliber Magnum, shot the Indian-born storeowner in the chest and back and then cleared out the cash register. The owner survived. Pierre went to jail.
Thomas walked a very thin line in his formative years, lonely, causing trouble at school and eventually getting kicked out freshman year due to fighting. This was after he had made the varsity football team.
Philip transferred to a school that might have made his chances for success even harder. The kind of school you see dramatized in Michelle Pfeiffer movies. He even briefly moved back in with his mother, with terrible results. Somehow, some way, Thomas used his success on the football field and in the classroom to get past it all and find his way from the beaches of Miami to the snowy hills of Syracuse. You probably won't find too many people more excited about the prospect of a Syracuse winter than Philip Thomas.
The article also mentions his older brother Clevan, who almost made it out of the Miami neighborhood scot-free, earning a scholarship to FSU. But some bad choices ruined his chance at NFL stardom (though he has carved out a successful Arena career).
H/T: Tomahawk Nation