Lord knows I can't save the world. Yet I have this silly little thought in the back of my head telling me I can. (April 29, 2009)
One of Clarett's teammates with the Omaha Nighthawks was a long snapper named Matt Overton, who wound up getting cut, bringing both his paltry UFL income and his larger NFL dream to a halt. "What NFL team is going to sign me after a UFL team cuts me?" Overton recalls thinking. Clarett, his senses still adjusting to the sudden saturation of freedom, offered Overton his couch and a daily workout partner for as long as he wanted them.
Today Overton is entering his second season as the long snapper for the Colts. Clarett doesn't claim credit for Overton's current mid-six-figure salary, but he is proud of the platform he helped his friend achieve, from which Overton can do things like show terminally ill kids around the team's facility and surprise them with tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, as he did last month.
"Maurice never let me quit," says Overton. "Sometimes I'd slack off—not encouraged, not motivated—and he'd ask me, 'Where do you want to go?' "
For Clarett, the dream of representing his country in rugby at the Olympics feels no less attainable than the dream Overton clung to while crashing on an ex-convict's rented sofa. So far, however, he hasn't shown a strong enough commitment to the sport to register on the national coaches' radar. "He's got a lot going on from what I hear," says U.S.A. Sevens coach Alex Magleby, who has a scrum of fully committed prospects fistfighting for a shot at Rio. "He's got a lot of talent, but where does rugby fit into his life?"
Should Clarett find more room for the sport over the next three years (he was recently invited to train with the esteemed L.A. Rugby Club), the words he wrote in his cell on Jan. 9, 2009, may prove prophetic.
If I ever get the chance to step on that field again, I will come back to make my family and friends smile. I have a gift and I am extremely talented. I might not get the money that I expected in the past but I guarantee that someone will smile again when they see me play. I am a beast on that field.
For now, in lieu of the unique brotherhood of a rugby team, Clarett relies on his girlfriend and his child for companionship, plus a small circle of friends, including Warren Buffett, whose brain he picked often during his time in Omaha. "I say it every time I speak. Show me your friends, I'll show you your future," Clarett says. "I have a picture from  with 15 guys from my neighborhood, hanging out in a nightclub, partying. Out of those 15 people, 10 of them have been in state or federal prison, including myself. Two of them are dead. You look at that photo and a lot of stuff makes sense."
Some of Clarett's newer friends have suggested that he try to get his felonies pardoned so that he can run for the soon-to-be-vacant state representative's seat that serves Youngstown. U.S. congressman (and former Tressel quarterback) Tim Ryan has made it clear that the city needs homegrown leaders like Clarett, who isn't ruling out paid civil servanthood. After all, he has experienced everything his home state has to offer, from absorbing the cheers of 100,000 at the Horseshoe to lying spent and burned in the back of a paddy wagon.
"Who knows?" says Clarett, his face creasing to reveal perfect politician's teeth. "These legs are still fresh."