Clarett Provides Rare Insight Into Minds of Young Athletes
By Brandon Castel
Maurice Clarett has never been one to act shy about his opinions.
Photo by Jim Davidson
As a freshman at Ohio State, his brashness often landed him in hot water, but Clarett has done some growing up over the last nine years.
A stint at the Toledo Correctional Institution can sometimes have that affect on a young man. It can also have the opposite affect.
During his time in the slammer, Clarett began to reflect on the events of his life that landed him behind bars, which he eventually shared in his blog called The Mind of Maurice Clarett.
On Monday, Clarett gave us all a unique look into the mind of former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
“The rules that govern the world don’t necessarily connect with the young man on any level,” Clarett wrote in his blog Gone Too Soon on the website OurBuckeyeHub.com.
“He doesn’t connect with all his peers because of jealousy and envy. He can't take adults serious because of their fascination with his supreme athletic ability and he can't stay focused because the fame is blinding his eyes.”
Clarett was speaking about Pryor, but he might as well have been speaking about himself. In many ways, Clarett was Terrelle Pryor before Pryor was Terrelle Pryor. He was considered to be a must-have prospect in the class of 2002 and right away, Clarett was thrust into the starting lineup on one of the best teams in the country.
He was also thrust into the national spotlight and the star status that comes along with it.
“How many of us…understand what it’s like to have an abundance of power on a daily basis? How many of us understand what it feels like for no one to ever say no us,” Clarett said.
“How many know what it feels like to be living a dream so many wish they could live? How many people know what it feels like to be responsible for such a rich tradition, yet have no idea of how to navigate it all? How many people know what it feels like for 100,000 people to scream their name every week? The moment can become intoxicating and overwhelming at times.”
Especially for an 18 year old kid. People want to banish Clarett and Pryor for the way they handled themselves, and that’s easy for people who never in their lives had to deal with the kinds of temptations that came at these kids on a daily basis.
“Now picture that same young guy emerging into that spotlight at an early age. Let's say he's emerged into that place at the age of 16. He's in his ‘moment’ yet he has no life experience. He's being more reactive than proactive because no one could ever predict fame and power being thrown their way so early,” Clarett wrote.
“Picture the young man’s physical ability maturing before or ahead of his intellect. It’s not to say he's dumb but it is to say that he has been noticed for his physical abilities prior to his intellectual abilities. And that's where life gets confusing.”
For fans, watching players like Clarett or Pryor or Troy Smith score touchdowns in Ohio Stadium is a pastime. It might also serve as passion, but not nearly in the same way it does for these kids.
For them, it is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; but that dream doesn’t often end on a college gridiron or in a classroom.
“Imagine a young boy who comes from nothing and his eyes are wide open every day. He's hoping, wishing and dreaming of what he could become if things pan out right,” Clarett said.
“He watches the clips and flicks on ESPN and gets inspired just like you. He dreams of scoring that winning touchdown or making that winning basket. He dreams of taking care of his family and making millions off of his skills.”
There is no doubt that Clarett and Pryor both made mistakes—some of them childish and immature, some of them worse. Clarett paid dearly for his mistakes and Pryor is only now starting to pay for his.
Their stories are tragic, but their mindsets were hardly uncommon.
“For the most part we're young black men coming from underprivileged areas and (we are) depending on our ability to take us ‘ELSEWHERE,’” said Clarett, who came from Warren Harding High School in Youngstown—the same school that produced current Ohio State running back Boom Herron.
“We don't think like responsible adults because we don't have any responsibilities to deal with. We don't look at education as a viable option because we don't see the remnants of its work, so we do what pop culture says to do.”
In other words, get that money.
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