First of all I want to share with you that the 2008 numbers are in and this blog has set all sorts of records. This year this blog enjoyed 2,839,126 page views, making it the No. 1 sports blog at The Miami Herald with no one else even close. So thank you and great job by you.
I want to share with you today the story of Dolphins receiver Davone Bess. It is amazing. It is inspiring. It is, in my opinion, worthy of a movie -- particularly if Bess continues his meteoric ascent and improvement. Notre Dame's Rudy has got nothing on this kid.
The story is so good, it tells itself.
So that is what Davone Bess is doing. Here now is Davone Bess in his own words:
"My mom grew up pretty much a single parent. She had me at the age of 15 and she had my brother at 17. My dad pretty much wasn't there. If anyone was there it was my brother's dad, but not really because he was in a big time drug dealer. He was in and out of jail himself and going back and forth so he wasn't a reliable source.
"There was times my mom was in a room breaking down, crying, going crazy trying to figure out how to pay the bills and stuff. Knowing all the negativity my family had grown up in, there was almost no way out of our situation. This was in Oakland, California. I should tell you I was the first person in my family to go to college. I was the first person on my dad's side of the family that went to high school. That kind of gives you an idea of the type of family I grew up in. And my grandma was really supportive of my mom, but it's crazy because my grandma was actually pregnant at the same time as my mom. I'm the same age as my auntie. So [my grandma] couldn't really take care of me like she really wanted to because she had her own to take care of. so my mom was a kid -- a kid raising two kids.
"Sports pretty much kept me busy, kept me out of trouble, kept me off the streets. My mom always stressed, 'We don't need to be going that route like your stepfather,' meaning my brother's dad. And being a kid, everybody got in trouble, doing this and that when your parents told you not to. But I always had sports to lean back on and it always helped me to stay focused and keep me from getting deeper into serious problems.
"My stepfather, like I said, was in and out of jail a lot. He was there when he could be. But it's different when you got a male living with you in the house. He didn't stay with us. I graduated high school and one day I went to pick some friends up, but they ended up having some stolen merchandise with them. I picked them up. We get pulled over. And they charged me with everything because I was the driver. They knew I had nothing to do with it. But because of the fact I was an accessory, I did 15 months in a juvenile detention facility. Those guys wanted to testify on my behalf and tell them I had nothing to do with it. I was getting ready to go off to college and do all these positive things, but their attorneys wouldn't allow them to do that because that would make them look bad.
"I was going to Oregon State. I had signed a sports scholarship to go to Oregon State already. I had just graduated high school. It hurt. It hurt big time. So it was time for Plan B for me. I knew I was going to get out. I had all these positive things going for me, but the positive things ended up screwing me because [the judge] felt that I knew better than to put myself in that situation.
"So I go to the facility. It was as open facility. If I had wanted to walk out the door and leave, I could do it. There was like no gates, no nothing. I could walk out. Obviously, if you walk out, you get in trouble. You might get more time. They had a whole bunch of leagues -- volleyball, softball, flag football -- so I'm doing all these different things. And with the flag football team, we end up going to this local high school to play. And there was this whole bunch of kids being recruited from this school. I guess I started turning heads playing against the kids that were already being recruited.
"We were playing 7 on 7 and one of June Jones assistants ended up seeing me. This was the summer of '04 and from that summer throughout the fall I was talking to [the University of] Hawaii. I got out in September. And then they brought me out on a trip in October and offered me a scholarship. I accepted, and in January 2005, I enrolled at Hawaii.
"I got my opportunity back. I still wasn't sold that my dream was definitely going to come true and I was going to the NFL. I knew that by me going into that situation, it was going to be that much harder to make it to the NFL. Being Hawaii, nobody respects Hawaii. And then there was still the trouble issue -- the character issue -- that people were going to wonder about.
"I didn't get drafted. And it was frustrating. But I didn't give up. I knew whatever team I was going to, I was going to give my all and give my best. I set specific goals for myself when Miami signed me. They called me in the fifth round and I thought that was going to be my round. But they said they didn't have any other picks and had to use their picks on, like, a lineman or a running back or something. So I was, like, OK. Then right after the draft my phone was ringing off the hook. Like 12 teams called me after the draft but I had actually verbally committed to coming to Miami during the seventh round. So I ended up saying, 'I'm just going to go to Miami.' I did know the situation and I felt this was the best spot for me to come in and contribute.
"They gave me a $7,000 signing bonus and my agent said there were a couple of teams willing to give me up around $9,000 or $10,000. But that didn't matter. I knew this was the best opportunity and best fit for me. I think my second preseason game, against Jacksonville, they bumped me up and I actually started as the third receiver. And I was like, 'OK,' and got a little more confidence. And then the next game, even more. It was the last preseason when I had my best game, even on special teams. And that let me know the coaches were serious. And Week 1, here it is and I'm the No. 3 receiver and starting in the three wide receiver package. And my confidence grew from there.
"So never listen to anybody that says you can't do something. Because through all those times, throughout that whole story I just told you, I always had people in my ear or talking behind my back saying I wasn't going to make it. 'He ain't going to do this, he's just going to be another statistic on the streets. He ain't this, he ain't that. I'm happy he went to jail.' I just kept my eyes on the prize. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted to accomplish. And I took that motivation and kept it going. So don't let anybody tell you you can't do anything."
Amazing stuff. And thinking about Bess and guys like him on this team, is it any wonder why the Miami Dolphins think they can continue winning this season?