Lemon returns to practice at Georgia

ATHENS – Michael Lemon returned to practice with the Georgia football team Wednesday and got a welcome break from the reality he has known for the last 15 days.

"It was pretty good to be back out here," he said. "It was a change of scenery, a change of situation from all the sorrow and sadness down there. It's a lot more cheerful up here, and that's helping out a lot."

Lemon, a redshirt freshman who graduated from Stratford, missed the first day of spring practice while tending to family business after the death of his mother. Phaba LaDon Hollingshed died Feb. 21, and her fiancé has been charged with murder.

"It was great to have Michael out there period, and he did good," head coach Mark Richt said. "He was out there working hard and seemed to be doing fine. I would think he's enjoying being with his teammates and just getting back in the groove of things. The busier you are, the less you have time to dwell on the sadness of what happened, so I think it's good for him."

Most of Lemon's time has been spent making sure his brother, 15-year-old Marquez, is resettled, he said.

"I've been working on his living situation, school, clothes, getting him the necessities that he needs," Michael Lemon said. "We lost everything. Basically my whole focus has been making sure he's OK. That's all I'm working toward right now. We grew up getting prepared for this by our mom. She always told me I had to look out for him, so that's all I'm doing."

In September, Clemson player Ray Ray McElrathbey received a waiver from the NCAA that allowed his little brother to move in with him and be partially attended to by athletic department personnel due to their family conditions. However, Marquez Lemon is living with the boys' aunt in Macon and will remain there, Michael said.

"We've had a big change already," Michael Lemon said. "I don't want to change too much. He's going to stay at the same school."

As for school, Michael Lemon should be able to retain his academic eligibility despite missing two weeks of classes, Richt said.

"It looks like he's going to be able to salvage this semester and maybe even thrive this semester," Richt said. "His professors are being very understanding of what he's been through and are working with him, and I believe he'll be fine this semester if he does his part."

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