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Old 02-22-2009, 11:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default "Star" sighting and great story

Thought I would share a story about a professional athlete that didnt just beat up his wife, shoot himself in the leg, get caught using performance enhancing drugs ect ect.

All three of my kids played in basketball tournaments yesterday. My second grader in town where we live (Bloomer), my 8th grader daughter in Durand (1 hour south of here) and my fifth grade son in Tony (1 hour north of here). Second grader went with friends and hung with them for the day, I went south with my daughter and my wife and dad went north with my son.

Tony, Wisconsin is an unincorportated town of less then 100 people with a high school (Flambeau) that has an enrollment of just over 200 kids.

Their most famous athlete is a kid by the name of Jim Leonhard. In this small school setting Jim was all everthing. The Twins wanted him for baseball. He has D2 scholarship offers for basketball. And in football he did everthing and scored in every way imaginable. And like a lot of kids in this state, he grow up wanting to be a Badger. So instead of taking some guaranteed money and going with the Twins or playing basketball under scholarship, he follows his dream and decides to walk on at Wisconsin. Walking on means paying your own way ($40,000.00/year or so) and hoping that a 5'9"/180#,white guy(dont want to come across as making this a white/black thing, just trying to paint an entire picture), will somehow catch coach Alvarez's eye. Well to make a longer story even longer he defies all odds, earns a scholarship, becomes a starter, becomes a captain, plays in big games/bowls and achievs all-american honors and graduates. Alvarez falls in love with the kid. He has phenominal insticts. His size and postion (secondary) does'nt warrant a call from the NFL on draft day. He hooks up with the Bills and plays for 4 years then is cut before last season. Ravens pick him. He returns punts and kicks for some of the years plays in nickle and dime coverage, but in latter third/playoffs he is starting and making big plays on defense---some big punt returns, interceptions and huge hit on Crumpler that forced fumble against Titans in playoff (probably giving up 100+ pounds on that play--jimmy says he barely remembers the play--got his bell rung).

Anyways his dad is the high school boys coach at Flambeau and is reffing yesterday. My dad knows him pretty well and they are talking about whatever and come to find out Jimmy is home. So Don calls him and tells him to swing on over. Well word gets out that he might be coming over to the HS and the place is buzzing. Most of these little scrappers have followed his career and look up to him so they are stoked. Someone runs to a nearby town with a Walmart and buys up all the Wisconsin stuff they have. And the kids wait out front in the commons. 1/2 hour latter in he comes. The kids are all over him. He sits at a table and signs shoes kids are taking off their feet, paper plates, shirts, hats, arms, ribbons ect ect. And he couldnt be nicer--my wife is blown away. He takes pictures with our team, the Rice Lake team, the Ladysmith team, the Owen-Withee team, the Flambeau team ect ect. My wife figures he is there for 3-4 hours. He watches the Championship game between Rice Lake and my sons team (sons team lost by 7), he answers a zillion questions including these from my son "whats ray lewis like?" one of the best guys on the team---whats ed reed like? most talented guy he has ever been around---did you tackle brandon jacobs? too many times.

So all in all, it was pretty cool. He may not be a superstar, but if you watched the playoffs esp the Ravens you heard his name. With 5 years in the league he is vested (has a retirement and medicall benefits for life). In a week things willl shake out as to his future. Ravens would like to keep him but have to sign suggs and lewis. Jets could be his next stop and he will probably get a bit of security with a 2/3 year deal. And yes he still is 5'9"--maybe a bit heavier and still defying the odds--and also a guy you would be proud to say you know a bit or glad to hear that your son or daughter looks up to.

Sorry for the extremely long read--thought it was worth mentioning.

fidrych

Ill maybe post a picture or two (with some help from my good friend Bammer) if anyone is interested.
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Old 02-22-2009, 11:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great story... may have something to do with spending some time here in Wisconsin where ther are still a few people who have morals, values, and a good head on thier shoulders because not everything was handed to him----
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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nice read, thanks.
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Old 02-22-2009, 01:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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great story, thanks for sharing.
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