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A Man to Lean On
Leigh Montville
December 21, 1992
Former Olympic sprinter and NFL receiver Lawrence Burton found his true calling as a counselor to troubled kids at Boys Town
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December 21, 1992

A Man To Lean On

Former Olympic sprinter and NFL receiver Lawrence Burton found his true calling as a counselor to troubled kids at Boys Town

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"You think about what he's done here and it's amazing," one of his Boys Town kids, Chris, says. "He didn't brag about the things he'd done in the NFL. He never even talked about any of it. You look at him and you say, 'Here he is, this man took time to be with me.' What's better than that? You look at Michael Jordan, and he's fine. He's a great player and he does a lot with kids, but I don't think he'd give up his career to be with kids. Lawrence did."

"He was wearing a Rolex watch one day," another kid, Damien, says. "I said, 'Is that a Rolex?' He looked at it. He seemed almost embarrassed. He said, 'It's just a watch.' I never saw it again."

"Lawrence has been someone for me to look up to," another kid, David, says. "Just a wow sort of thing. He's really helped me keep my head up. Because of him, this has been the most beautiful fall of my life. I saw all the trees, all the colors changing. I'd never seen that before, because I always was looking at the ground."

The praise does not stop. At one of the goodbyes, the kids brought out various gifts for both Lawrence and Ida. One was the sign from the front yard at Maher Circle, framed. Another was a picture frame. Another was a pile of photos. Lawrence's favorite present was a small table clock. A brass plate on the front was inscribed: LAWRENCE BURTON AN INSPIRATION. The kids bought it with their own money.

Burton holds the clock in his hands as if it were a Fabergé egg. "Isn't that something?" he says. "What would you rather have, this or the Heisman Trophy?"

There is no doubt about his choice.

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