Deshaun Watson's golden ticket was rescued from the bottom of a basket of Halloween candy. That's the first part of the story Watson is here to tell. Dressed casually in designer jeans and a button-down shirt with the sleeves pushed up, he's leaning on the lectern at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, eager to share his biography with a packed house of dignitaries and Clemson fans. He was 9, he says, and he'd been shuttled off to a church function for underprivileged kids about 10 miles from the government-run apartments where he lived with his mother, Deann, and three siblings in Gainesville, Georgia. The complex wasn't a place for trick-or-treating, so the church offered an alternative. "I was just in it for the candy," Watson remembered. Deann was always careful with her kids, so she inspected the chocolates and sweets before he could devour his bounty. As Deann sifted through the treats, she found a pamphlet from Habitat for Humanity, the charitable organization devoted to providing affordable houses to those in need. It promised a new life if she made a commitment to work for it. "We were in government housing," Watson tells the crowd. "[Mom] figured, 'What could be worse?'" Watson talks about the old neighborhood, where he played pickup football games with gang members and drug dealers. He talks about the new house at the top of a hill with a wide front yard in a well-appointed suburban neighborhood. He talks about hope, because that's what he found in his new home.
How a house became home for Deshaun Watson
ESPN | Jan 10