Thursday, December 14, 2006

Clemson's McElrathbey Wins FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award

Here is the press release from the Football Writers Association of America:

Clemson defensive back/wide receiver Ray Ray McElrathbey is the winner of the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, which is annually given to a player, coach or support person in college football who displays courage, on or off the field.

McElrathbey, a redshirt freshman, saw most of his action on special teams this season. But he has undertaken the responsibility of caring for his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr (now 12).
Ray Ray and Fahmarr's mother has a cocaine addiction; their father has a gambling addiction. The brothers' home life in Atlanta was not stable and both had spent time in foster care.
Ray Ray obtained temporary custody of Fahmarr and planned to support him with Pell grants, odd jobs and the monthly stipend for living off-campus.

After news of Ray Ray McElrathbey's situation was publicized, Clemson sought a waiver to allow a trust fund that would help McElrathbey care for his brother. The NCAA granted the waiver within 48 hours, citing the unique circumstances.

Also because of the waiver, Clemson coaches' families are allowed to help Ray Ray care for Fahmarr when it comes to transportation to and from school and other basic needs.
Ray Ray told The New York Times the NCAA's decision "lifted a little weight from my shoulders." But Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, among others, noted the heavy burden of responsibility Ray Ray had shouldered.

"I could not fathom a 19-year-old freshman being a father, going to school and playing college football," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I could not imagine at that age handling all the responsibilities that Ray Ray has done this year.

"It has been quite a story because I see the players, coaches and their families doing what they can to help Ray Ray and Fahmarr.

"Ray Ray is very deserving of this award from the Football Writers Association of America and the FedEx Orange Bowl."

Following the Tigers' bowl game, McElrathbey plans to be at the FedEx Orange Bowl, where he will be presented the Courage Award Trophy and will receive a donation from the Orange Bowl Foundation for the Fahmarr McElrathbey Trust.

McElrathbey was the team's special teams player of the week after recording four tackle

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