03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Once Homeless Cincinnati Football Player Looks Toward Pro

It's a story we all know -- Small town boy makes good on football scholarship dream, becomes local legend. You could say that's Mardy Gilyard's story, but the University of Cincinnati football player's tale has a lot more to do with a little bit of hubris and a big heart for others, reports Sports Illustrated.

In the fall of 2006, Gilyard had his football scholarship revoked for cutting classes and was left homeless with a $10,000 bill for his lost semester of classes staring him in the face. Gilyard tried to give up, but his stubborn family said no.

So, despite himself, the young man ended up working three jobs and volunteering evenings with kids at a local afterschool program to get back the college football star life he had taken for granted.

Next spring, he'll likely be a late first-round or early second-round draft pick, a 6-foot-1 burner with very good hands and unchallenged toughness. A slot receiver and return man, in the mold of Wes Welker and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. If the fairy tale ending plays out, he'll sleep in a car again. But only if he wants to. How did this happen? How did the redemption song of the college season find its way into the iPod rotation? What sort of person is homeless, yet spends his limited free time feeding other homeless? Talk about irony. Who is this guy?..."Blessed," is all he says. Actually, Gilyard says a lot more. He talks as fast as he plays. But the conversations always ends with that. Blessed.

To read Gilyard's whole story of going from homeless to hometown hero, visit Sports Illustrated.

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