Watching ESPN’s E:60… They’re doing a feature on former Ohio State Buckeyes running back Maurice Clarett. Here was a guy who seemingly had everything: he was the starting RB for one of the most successful programs in the country, he had the popularity, drugs, girls. He was the self-proclaimed G.O.A.T. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos after he starred at Ohio State for one year. Despite legal and behaviour problems, he ended up getting drafted in the 3rd round. Even with this perceived success, some people just cannot get away from their demons despite some of the best opportunities presented to them.
I personally remember back when I was 14, I would watch NCAA football games on the weekend. Maurice Clarett was undoubtedly one of my favourite players. He wasn’t the biggest, but he was the most solid, agile, and hard-working players on the field. I have never played a down of organized football (my town didn’t have a local league and my high school never had a team), but I am a fan of the game and a fan of what Maurice did on the field. He was the most prominent, coolest, most visible athletes in college football. He had the Sports Illustrated cover. That’s all I saw. So when I find out that no less than one year later he’s being arrested and is going to jail, it blew me away. I never thought that someone in such a high status, with all the hope and potential a guy could ask for, would have such a bad situation and be such a “bad person” (my ethics scale at the time: good people, bad people).
During the summer after his first year, the cops were looking for Maurice because of a robbery charge. He had gotten pretty drunk at a bar, and while he was stumbling home he started verbally abusing someone on the street, brandishing a gun. The Ohio Police had him on a robbery charge. Knowing the cops were looking for him, Maurice jumped in a car and started driving… with three automatic rifles and a 40 of vodka. Paranoid. Desperate. Crazy. Clarett said of the situation, “…You could have had Jesus Christ sitting in that car next to me telling me the right thing to do, I probably still wouldn’t do it.” The cops caught Maurice. He went to jail, sentenced to 7 1/2 years. That was in 2006. Fast forward to 2010, and this April Maurice was released on good behaviour after 3 1/2 years. Primarily helpful to this early release was an exercise that I am doing right now; Maurice started a blog with the help of his girlfriend. He would write and dictate his thoughts over the phone; she would type them into the blog. Now, Maurice has a new lease, and no doubt a new outlook, on life. He is enrolled in courses at Ohio State once again while playing semi-pro football for the Omaha Nighthawks.
I guess me at 14 didn’t fully comprehend the fact that, yeah you can have it all, and you can be in a good spot on the field or in your career, but that doesn’t mean you’re in a good spot in life. And vice versa. However, the manner in which we turn those situations around, as Maurice did, is the key to a healthy and happy existence. Maurice makes $50,000 a season, an honest living to support his girflriend and child. Wow. What a roller coaster. Maurice’s blog is still up and running, check it out at http://mauriceclarett.wordpress.com/ . It’s fascinating stuff, and it’s a prime example of how you can, and have to, be the change you want to see. No excuses.