I have three favorite Buckeye Football players in my life as a fan, and they’re all running backs. Archie Griffin, Eddie George and Maurice Clarett. Clarett is the only one that doesn’t have a Heisman Trophy—he does have a National Championship Ring—but that’s okay, what he’s doing now is more valuable.
After spending three years and eleven months behind bars, Clarett has emerged to share his inspiring testimony that has not only captivated Buckeye Nation, but the Country. His ESPN 30 for 30 film, “Youngstown Boys”, aired on December 14th to rave reviews. The documentary allowed a world of people, inside the mind of the young man with so much promise, who in his own words said, he threw it all away. For a decade many followers of Buckeye Nation despised him, calling him a sell out, accusing him of trying to take down their beloved Buckeye Football program as he faltered. But after the film, many were so highly impressed with his humility and turnaround, that he doubled his twitter followers that night. He’s now at 55 thousand.
He is currently in the midst of a Meet & Greet tour around the Columbus area, and it’s a long wait to meet the former Buckeye. That would never have been the case three or four years ago when he was first released from prison. Several fans still held a grudge against him. I went on the third day of the tour and he’s already sold out of his inspiring book. Those same people who sneered at him and made him the punch line of their jokes, now cheer and support him again as if he’s still breaking 50 yard runs in the Shoe after running over a couple of linebackers. It really is the best redemption story I’ve ever seen. You could even call it a resurrection of sorts. Clarett has always hoped to inspire and help people. It was something his former Head Coach Jim Tressel mentioned at length in the documentary.
I just ordered his book “My Life, My Story, My Redemption” from his website (mauriceclarettonline.com) and plan to start reading page by page as soon as it arrives. What I do know already about his story, is that what he has learned, and is now sharing, couldn’t have been learned at the height of his success as a star at Ohio State. Sometimes in life our greatest lessons are learned in defeat. It is clear Maurice has grasped the lessons he needs to continue to be successful in this new chapter.
10 years ago he inspired an entire fan base with his play on the field, 10 years later, he’s doing the same with his life off the field. Buckeye Nation should be more proud of him now, than they were when he scored that game winning touchdown, late that January Arizona night in 2003.
Had Clarett never been suspended for his sophomore season, he would have been the front runner for the Heisman. I’m confident in saying, with the talent surrounding him at OSU and the promotion from the athletic department, he would have won the bronze statue at some point in his career. But it’s clear, what he’s giving back now is worth more than the Heisman. I’m proud and all of Buckeye Nation should be proud to call him one of our own.
P.S. If you go out and meet him at one of his events or cross paths with him out and about, make sure to give kudos to his mother and his girlfriend. It took strong, faithful, devoted, caring women to help Maurice get to this point and they deserve plenty of praise for their roles in the resurrection of his dreams of inspiring people.