Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/13/2006 04:17:00 PM
My Sportsman: Ray Ray McElrathbey
Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (right) has temporary custody of his brother, Fahmarr, as their parents struggle with addictions.
By Jon Heyman
Naming Ray Ray McElrathbey twice might be the best thing his crack-addicted mother ever did for him. If anyone merits twice the recognition, it's the 20-year-old, redshirt freshman cornerback at Clemson University, who has made his 12-year-old brother, Fahmarr , his No. 1 priority, far ahead of football or anything else.
Last summer McElrathbey was granted custody of Fahmarr, who like McElrathbey's seven other brothers and sisters, had the misfortune to be born to troubled parents.
Ray Ray didn't want Fahmarr to repeat the childhood he had. While he beat long odds to make it out, thanks to his drive and athletic ability, Ray Ray wasn't taking any chances with Fahmarr. When Ray Ray was a kid, his mother once left him in one room of a crack house while she bought drugs in another. Ray Ray and a sister didn't just watch the TV. They guarded the TV so their mother wouldn't steal it for drug money.
It was a nightmare childhood, but Ray Ray is doing what he can to ensure that Fahmarr doesn't repeat it. His is such a worthy endeavor that the normally unyielding NCAA has relaxed its rules against receiving extra benefits. Good thing, too, because Ray Ray has already proven to be a world-class fundraiser. More than $60,000 has been donated to help him and his family.
He and his brother live together in an apartment five miles off campus, but it's a world away from his previous life. Ray Ray had no role model to guide him as he undertakes the toughest role there is. But he's doing what he can. There isn't time for Ray Ray to save all the siblings, not while he plays cornerback for Clemson and attends classes.
Actually, it's a wonder he can do what he does. He isn't just a student-athlete. He's a father-student-athlete, a trifecta of responsibilities that's tiring to consider, an impossible undertaking that warrants him as my Sportsman of the Year.
I agree with the first poster. This world NEEDS more people like Ray Ray!!! He's an expectional role model. And to the second poster, if you go to the Clemson athletic website, there was an address where you can donate money. It's through a local bank in Clemson.
Posted: 1:58 PM by John Yates, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Sportsman of the year is not enough for Ray Ray. I suggest from now on the SI Sportsman of the year should be known as the Ray Ray.
He's to be commended in his efforts & those efforts will long be remembered when he enters the work-aday world after college is completed. I salute this Quality Young Man for his time, patience & work is helping to provide a good atmosphere for his brother.
Ray Ray is an outstanding example of what a college athlete should aspire to be like. He has put family and personal responsibility ahead of sports while staying focused on the bigger picture of life. It's no coincidence that the sports and education have taken care of themselves. I hope more schools follow Clemson's lead in recruiting quality young people who just happen to be coachable student athletes.
Ray Ray is more than a great sportsman. He's a great man. I don't know of any higher compliment that I could give him. The NCAA actually got it right time and Clemson University should be commended for the way that they've helped provide a support structure for Ray Ray and Fahmarr.
There are many people at every school that need help just like Ray Ray. I hope that this excellent young man's story can help others out in similar situations that don't have the attention of the nation.
I hope Clemson (and other schools) see the enormous outreach from the fans and community and go a step further to establish Permanent Funds for single parents and guardians raising a child while going through college...
Even though I am a Clemson fan, I do not feel Ray Ray should be in contention for Sportsman of the Year 2006. With 5 takles on the season, he has yet to prove himself as a "Sportsman". This award should go to a player who actually plays. I feel he is more deserving of an award like "Big Brother of the Year".
I am Tonya Ray-Ray and Fahmarrs mom. To say that the only thing that I did for him was to name him twice is a lie. First of all his real name is Ramon which is one name. And second of all you don't know know me personally all that you know about me is what you have read.I want you to know that I love my children and I dont have to explain what I have done for them over the years. Yes I am battling addiction and I am clean now key word is battling which means that I havent given up.If you want to know about me contact me and ask me my story. Thanks to every one that helped my sons. And for the record I have done things for my children and we are and have always been close.
The first time I read about Ray Ray and Farmarr I was literally moved to tears. What they are doing transcends sport. For the effect this story has had on the Clemson team, campus and opposing teams such as Temple Ray Ray not only deserves to be SI's sportsman of the year, he deserves to be father of the year as well.