"Anything," Tyrone would say. He forgave his mother, says she has been sober for two years, says, "She helps keep me going now." But he never forgot. "It's not that I'm angry," he says. "I don't trust too much. Don't promise me anything, because I'm not going to look for you to keep your promise. Just say you're going to try."
For himself he leaves less room. His decision to stay in school was an unspoken pledge to Leslie made good. "I want him to know there's more than just money," Wheatley says. "A person with morals cannot be bought. I told him this is the choice I made. Not to win the Heisman, not to break records—this is something I felt I should do. If you want a path to follow, I'm going to set the best path."
This is a world of pressure, far heavier than a stadium full of 100,000, and it is chilling to see Wheatley negotiate his way, allowing no weakness. Jackson says he has never seen anyone so rigid. "He doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, doesn't do anything anybody else does," Jackson says. "And that makes him strong. He gathers strength from not being what the odds say he should be."
Midnight. Tyrone and Kim are on the track, both practicing starts, over and over. She is tired. He doesn't care. "One more, "he says.
She is beginning to hurt. She wants to stop now.
"Not till you get it right, "he says.
Her hands are bleeding. She is crying. "Why do you train so hard?" she says.
"One more," he says. "One more...."
This is not meanness. This is survival.
Tyrone Wheatley is a senior at the University of Michigan.