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The Greg Reid Story


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Don't know if you guys have read this so Here it is.Great story and Greg is quickly becoming one of my favorite all time noles.

TALLAHASSEE — There were times when Greg Reid thought he'd never make it to a place like Florida State. After his dad was locked up about six years ago for selling drugs, Reid's grades plummeted. He took out his anger on Friday nights and then caught maybe the luckiest break of his life when he was placed in Andrea Bridges' English class at Lowndes High in Valdosta, Ga.

"Without her," Reid says now, "I probably wouldn't even be here."

Reid and his teammates at Florida State will travel this week to No. 10 Oklahoma. It will be a difficult game in a difficult environment. But it won't be as tough as the road Reid traveled to arrive here.

A call you never hope to get

Valdosta, Ga., is a football town as much as it is anything. The sport is ingrained into the people and into the culture. It was in that environment that Reid grew up loving the game. He played on teams at the Boys and Girls Club, where his parents were his coaches. Reid always had a knack for it. He could do things the other kids couldn't.

During his freshman year at Valdosta's Lowndes High, football practice ended.

Reid waited for his daddy — that's what he calls him, even now — to come pick him up from practice. And waited.

"I was still sitting out there, man," Reid said. "It was like eight o'clock. I'm like, what's going on? And I get the phone call, go home and everything was just told to me."

Reid's dad had been arrested. The details came later — that Greg Reid Sr. had been charged with trafficking cocaine and faced a lengthy prison sentence. That he would also serve time for domestic violence. The younger Reid can tell stories of the abuse that surrounded him.

The finality of his dad's arrest might have surprised Reid. But the situation didn't shock him. He knew his dad dealt. Try as he might to keep it a secret, the elder Reid couldn't. It was known.

Once, Reid confronted his father.

Reid Sr., serving time in a halfway house in Valdosta, awaiting the end of a six-year prison sentence, remembers the moment well. He said the words still haunt him. He said his son told him: "Daddy, they say you're a drug dealer and if you are, please quit. I don't want you to go to jail."

Reid Sr. said he grew up poor and without a father. He said he dealt drugs to help support his family.

"I never had anything around them, I never let my kids see anything," Reid Sr. said. "I definitely didn't want them to look towards selling drugs to use that as something to get by — I never let them see any of that."

They still knew, though, just like they knew that their parents' relationship was volatile and physically violent. According to Georgia Department of Corrections, Reid Sr. is also serving time for aggravated assault. Lowndes County Sheriff's Department records indicate he was arrested there nine times overall. Reid Sr. will talk about the drug dealing, the horrors of prison and how he hasn't seen his son play a game since his freshman year of high school.

But the elder Reid will not talk about the domestic violence and any abuse he might have inflicted on the mother of his children, now his ex-wife.

Looking past signs of trouble

Greg Reid's mom, Diane Hart, remembers reading the signs when Lowndes High played on the road. They mocked her son's last name. "Greg can't Read," they said. This was after Reid's dad was gone and when his mother was trying to be both that and a father while working at the distribution center at Lowe's from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There were the signs and the general notion that Reid, in his words, was "a thug."

People who know him best believe he was hurting but too proud to talk too much about it.

"He probably did go out there on Friday nights, [with] a lot of things he was going through, and probably took it out on the next team, you know," Hart said. "Because a lot of people said things and did things that wasn't nice about our family and about him … You know what people would say — well he ain't gonna be nothing. His dad wasn't nothing."

Reid was becoming something: One of the best high school football players in Georgia. He was as talented as any player in the nation.

But his grades were terrible. After a poor freshman year – around the same time his dad went to prison — Reid fell woefully behind. His grades seemed destined to preclude his chances of playing at a Division I-A school.

"And my 11th grade year, my junior year, that's when a lady named Andrea Bridges came into my life," Reid said.

An English teacher at Lowndes High, Bridges already knew plenty about Reid the football player and about Reid the troubled student. She soon discovered something else, too.

"I remember from the very beginning he was a lot smarter than people gave him credit for being," Bridges said.

She's not sure how it happened but she and Reid formed a quick bond. Bridges saw a kid with a rough background who needed help and guidance. Reid saw someone who didn't treat him as a star athlete — someone who didn't just pass him through the system.

Reid said: "I realized about [the importance of] school and [how] there's a good person in me, you know what I mean, instead of just focusing on football. She kind of made me focus on the world, and reality."

Bridges said: "There just was a lot of potential there and I knew that if he did not make it to play football somewhere, he could be a statistic … it's hard to break the cycle."

The pair went to work. Reid's junior year was only the beginning. During his senior year, when many of his classmates coasted toward graduation, Reid needed to make up for lost time.

Few people around Lowndes believed he'd make it, Bridges said. His test scores were low. He lacked some of the basic classes required to graduate. At times, Reid lost faith.

With the help of other teachers, Bridges became determined to see Reid succeed.

"He figured it out that this white lady was not playing," Bridges said. "He was not going to prove me wrong."

A screaming success

Reid visited his dad in prison and told him about his progress. He told him about Bridges.

"I just thank God for Mrs. Bridges," Reid Sr. says now.

Though the younger Reid improved in the classroom, he still found trouble. His mom headed off to work so early, too, that Reid didn't have anyone around to watch him.

Around Christmas during his senior year, when Reid still had much work to do to qualify for a Division I school, Bridges invited Reid to move in with her family. Technically, Reid was no longer her student. Her husband, King, welcomed the idea. And their son, Ty, who's now 6, immediately latched on to Greg.

Reid's mom supported the plan, calling Bridges, "A second mom, a mentor, somebody that I know I could put my trust in, and my child."

He rode to school every morning with Bridges, who made sure Reid did what he needed to do in the afternoons and evenings. Reid spent holidays with his adopted family. He visited colleges with Bridges. When Reid announced he was headed to Florida State it should have represented the end of a grueling process.

But it wasn't the end. He still needed to qualify academically.

Bridges screamed when she received his test results. It was the summer of 2009, days after Reid had already moved to Tallahassee. If he hadn't made the right score, he'd have to leave Florida State before having time to unpack. But Bridges' scream, in an office at Lowndes, said everything that needed to be said.

New chance for father, son

Reid likes to tell people he will put on a show. He told reporters that before the start of the season and then the first time he touched a football he returned a punt 74 yards to the end zone. That was fine. But he said to wait until his dad comes to see him play.

"Knowing that he's watching me play, I'm going to try to give him the best show ever," Reid said.

The elder Reid has received his release papers. They are dated today but he said he will not be released until the paperwork officially clears. He is hoping to attend Florida State's home game against BYU next week. It will be the first time he has seen his son play since Reid was on the 9th grade team at Lowndes.

About his mistakes of the past, Reid Sr. said, "I regret it to the fullest." He's done with his old life, he said.

Since he has been in the halfway house, Reid Sr. has worked as a mechanic. Some of his co-workers have showed him YouTube videos of his son with the highlights he missed. His son led the nation in punt returns as a freshman. The elder Reid sees things he saw long ago — moves that were in their infancy at the Boys and Girls Club.

Reid Sr. likes watching those videos. But they make him realize how much he has missed. He is ready to be a father again. A better father than ever was before.

Despite everything — the dealing, the violence at home, the helpless feeling when his dad went away six years ago — Reid doesn't hold any ill will toward his father. He has taken out his frustration on the football field, where the game helped Reid to believe there was something out there for him. Something more than the life his father chose.

"I think football saved him," Bridges said. "It wasn't a person. It wasn't me. it wasn't any coach. It was football. That was his saving grace. I think that's always what kept him going."

Reid continues to go on. Promising shows. Daring opposing teams to punt to him and quarterbacks to throw his way. He is making a name for himself while also proving there's more to a man than his last name.

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