in fact, is a success story suitable for an exhibit at Ellis Island. Whitney's
father worked the Contract up and down the East Coast but always shuttled home
to Exuma and then Nassau, working as a mason until he died. Whitney and Beverly
married in 1971 and sealed the generational jump from blue-collar to white,
pushing education on their boys as if it were oxygen: In order, Marchant became
an investment banker in Pennsylvania, Marvis a lawyer in New Jersey, Mordecai a
U.S. Army medic; McKinley is getting his graduate degree in sports management
at Florida State. That's not so rare a scorecard for immigrant couples out of
the West Indies.
person who comes here will work harder because there's so many opportunities
that people just ignore," says Whitney, 57, now a senior systems engineer
with a New Jersey financial services company. "Myron was telling me the
other day about some award in Florida—if you get a certain grade point average,
you can get a college scholarship. If I knew that, I'd have lived in Florida a
long time ago. And in the meantime, people are coming home with a C average? If
you're getting a C, something is wrong with you."
But by any
standard, Myron has always been a young man in a hurry. One of the nation's top
prep prospects, he received 57 scholarship offers as a senior at The Hun School
in Princeton, N.J., and announced his decision live, out of Trump Plaza in
Atlantic City, on ESPN2. It wasn't the toughest decision; Florida State had a
secret weapon. "Samari was Myron's hero," said Seminoles head coach
phoned Samari in 2004, a high school junior cold-calling an All-Pro NFL vet,
asking him which Rolle relatives they had in common. They're still trying to
figure that out. But Samari had been keeping tabs on Myron, and he praised
Myron more for his work in the classroom than for his achievements on the
football field. Soon they were talking three times a week, about their strong
faith, tight families, tough dads, educational priorities—the whole Bahamian
ethos. Samari had grown up in Miami Beach, the son of two teachers, Harry and
Grace, married 32 years now. Upset about his scarce playing time as a junior at
Miami Beach High, Samari had begged his father to let him transfer to Miami
Northwestern, where Billy Rolle was the defensive coordinator, for his senior
year. Harry had told him, No. You're a Rolle. You're going to tough it out,
move to quarterback and be named athlete of the year.
along, everything went according to plan," Samari says. " Coach Bowden
won his national championship Jan. 1, 1994, and came to my house on Jan. 2 at
10 a.m. My dad said, 'I told you you were a Rolle.'"
or no, it was eerie for Myron to hear something so, well, familiar. "We
haven't found that we're cousins," he says, "but I feel we're so close
I could call him my cousin. We'll text-message, call. I spend time with his
kids, his wife. He's somebody I can ask for any advice: how to cover a
three-yard slant or how to talk to a girl. He's pretty much a mentor."
from high school a semester early, in January 2006, Myron enrolled at FSU in
exercise science with plans to graduate by the end of summer 2008. He expects
to play one more year of college ball—while finishing off a graduate degree in
public administration—and then six or seven years in the NFL before turning to
fulfill his real ambition: becoming a neurosurgeon. Meanwhile, after Myron
broke out big as a roving safety four games into his freshman season, his
tackles and interceptions declined this fall, but the FSU coaches don't doubt
him. "I can say this: As a sophomore he's a lot further along than Samari
was," says Bowden.
And to hear
Samari tell it, Myron may always be ahead of him. "He's the perfect
kid," says the Ravens cornerback, now the father of three. "Whenever I
see Myron, what my wife once said runs through my head: 'That's what I want my
son to be.'"
WITH MYRON'S 3.8
GPA and physical gifts, it's tempting to see him as the apotheosis of Rolle
family values. Yes, as Antrel says, "it has to continue. He's not going to
be the last Rolle who's going to make it." For most Rolles born in the
U.S., the Bahamas is a vacation spot. Billy hasn't been there since 1980.
Samari has gone at least a dozen times, and Antrel plans to make his first trip
to Exuma when this football season ends. Myron, though, is connected to the
islands in a way that even his brothers and parents aren't. He's been going
there since he was a baby, and something in the spirit of the place speaks to
him in a way the U.S. doesn't. His great athletic ambition isn't the Hall of
Fame in Canton, Ohio. It's the Wall of Fame at Nassau's international airport.
His great hope is to develop his skills as a neurosurgeon and take them back to
the Bahamas someday and open a free clinic.
"I was born
in the United States, and I'm a citizen, and I love this country," Myron
says, "but the Bahamas is who I am. Every time I go back, I feel so much
support and so much love: my cousins, my aunties, my uncles. I see that the
facilities there are not up to the standards of the U.S. Not enough attention
is paid to medicine, to practitioners and facilities; there's often
overcrowding in hospitals.