Winning the battle
Falcons' Mathis using Super Bowl week to make impact
Posted: Saturday January 30, 1999 02:01 AM
"I wanted to open the closet door and let the demons run out the front door." -- Terance Mathis
MIAMI (CNN/SI) -- He came to Miami with a mission. He came prepared to exorcise his demons.
In the process, Terance Mathis used his Super Bowl platform this week to raise awareness of two deeply personal issues: his own alcoholism three years ago and his mother's conquering breast cancer two months ago.
"He wanted to let people know what his mother went through and how I overcame it, like so many people do, that it is beatable." said Carole Mahone, Mathis' mother.
"It just takes a lot of family support and friends. And with the alcohol I know he talks a lot with children and teenagers. I guess now millions of people know the story and know that you can nip it in the bud."
That image cleansing is especially important to Mathis because of the organization he started 10 years ago. The TLC Foundation -- as in Terance Loves Children -- provides an opportunity for youngsters to meet and speak with athletes about games and the game of life.
"It's for all kids to get along, no matter what color or where you come from," said Mathis, who led the Falcons with 11 touchdown receptions this season. "To do that you have to show them you get along with everybody, no matter what color or background or religion. That's basically it. You want to motivate them to be something special."
That was Carole Mahone's motto while raising Mathis -- whose father died when Mathis was six months old. Home for this tight-knit pair was Stone Mountain, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, where Mathis has become the most popular player on a most popular team.
After four underwhelming seasons with the Jets in which he started exactly one game, Mathis came home and took flight in the Falcons' run-and-shoot offense. But then came Dan Reeves and his conservative style, and that drove Mathis to the point of a one-day retirement two seasons ago.
Now, a more mature Mathis is in Miami -- ready to live out every boy's fantasy.
"Growing up watching this organization having a few good years but a whole lot of bad ones was tough," Mathis said. "Now being a part of something special makes me feel real good."
And sharing the moment with his mother -- she healthy, he clean and sober -- makes it all unforgettable.
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