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Falcons' Holmes Regains Focus After Loss


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Lamar Holmes admitted his mind wasn't totally there at times this offseason. Based on the circumstances, it's easy to understand why.

Holmes was excused from a June 4 session of organized team activities after his grandmother, Olivia Sanders, had passed away in her Gastonia, North Carolina, home the day before. In talking about her death Monday, Holmes' lip started to quiver.

It's evident how much his grandmother meant to him.

"It was a dramatic blow because my grandmother, that's my heart," Holmes said. "She was the glue to our family; both sides of my family. She held everybody together on certain occasions. When she wanted the family together, everybody would just go to her house laughing and joking.

"For her to pass, and for me to be up here and not really get to see her ... my mom called me and told me she was seeing signs of it. I didn't know how bad it was. And for me not to be there to give her a kiss goodbye, it hurt."

Holmes said his grandmother, 69, died of heart failure. The reality of the matter didn't settle in until the funeral on June 9.

"For me to have to go to the funeral home and just see her lying there ... it was just a gigantic blow to our family," he said. "We still haven't recovered from it yet."

Holmes said he found it difficult to focus upon returning to practice.

"The day after I got back, it was kind of hard because the image that kept playing in my head was my grandmother in the (casket)," Holmes said. "But after talking to (senior director of player affairs) Kevin Winston, he was like, 'Your grandmother wouldn't want you walking around here like a sad pup. She would want you to go out there and play for her.'

"The instant he said that, it kind of hit something in me. I was like, 'You know Kevin, you're 100 percent right. I'm going to do exactly like that.' "

Holmes won't get to share the news with his grandmother about possibly being back in the starting lineup at right tackle. Sam Baker's season-ending knee injury led to rookie Jake Matthews being switched to left tackle, allowing Holmes to immediate step in on the right side.

Although Holmes struggled this offseason and was somewhat on the bubble before Baker's injury, he kept a positive outlook, thanks in part to his grandmother's words.

"She always told me to have fun doing what you love," he said. "That was the main thing she always said. As long as you're having fun, can't nothing be wrong. She always preached that. With this opportunity now, she'd tell me to enjoy it."

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maybe I'm a heartless pr!ck but I don't think his grandma is the reason for his lack of focus. he was given a golden opportunity last year and never got motivated to perform up to his 3rd round pick status. I mean he was handed a starting role and just farted in its general direction

Look at all the other posts, then look at yours. You can then tell me if you are a prick or not.

Condolences Lamar. I wasn't aware

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maybe I'm a heartless pr!ck but I don't think his grandma is the reason for his lack of focus. he was given a golden opportunity last year and never got motivated to perform up to his 3rd round pick status. I mean he was handed a starting role and just farted in its general direction

These atheletes are human too just like me and you. Would you be able to focus on your job after losing a family member? Some people. Smh.

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