Posted: Tuesday January 9, 2007 12:54PM; Updated: Tuesday January 9, 2007 12:54PM
Baltimore Ravens' Adalius Thomas.
EQUALITY, ALA. POPULATION: 1,123 AREA: 75 square miles COUNTY: Coosa NEAREST BIG CITY: Montgomery, 30 miles south
WHAT TO EAT: "My mom Eva Thomas's cooking. Everybody comes to her house," says Thomas. "Restaurants don't do well here. You work, you come home, you cook. Every day is like Sunday. You have two or three vegetables, two or three meats, cornbread. You eat right. [Eva] makes collard greens, smothered pork chops, baked chicken, meat loaf, strawberry cobbler. It's so good."
BEST FISHING :"Lake Martin, one of the great bass areas," says Thomas of the huge, freshwater lake that has hosted ESPN's Bassmasters. "All the country people come to town and fish. I've never been a good fisherman, though."
LOCAL HERO: "For me it's my father, Adonis. He drives a school bus now. He was an electrician when I was a kid. I'd go with him to wire houses, put in ceiling fans. He worked commercial properties, restaurants. He's always been a hard worker, the head of the household, the breadwinner."
MAJOR EMPLOYER: "Russell Athletic," says Thomas of the clothing company that was founded nearby. "Everybody worked there. I worked there as a screen printer when I was a kid. I printed numbers on jerseys, the Philadelphia Eagles' winter workout clothes. It made me think about playing in the NFL, and it was weird to see how big those guys were."
LOCAL LEGEND :"Al Williams, the barber. He's been the barber since he was in high school. He'd come to our house to cut our hair. Now he's become a preacher.... He just got a church."
LOOKING BACK: "High school is like a blur," says Thomas, 29, who led the Cougars' basketball team to the 1995 state title, as its top scorer and rebounder. "That [title] was the first. Since then we've won it about three times. You see people you knew back then, and it tells you how much you've grown up. It's strange. But people treat me the same."