Tyree's Time

David Tyree was in a meeting on Dec. 15, 2007 as his team prepared for a key late-season matchup against Washington when he received the worst possible news. Tyree, still a month-and-a-half away from becoming the unlikeliest of Super Bowl heroes, learned that his mother, Thelma, had died of a heart attack in Florida.

Needless to say, he missed the following day's game and New York's playoff-clinching victory in Buffalo the next week to be with his family. You see, Tyree's mother was everything to her son. She was the one that moved him to a better place when he was younger; the one that put him in a much better position to make something of himself.

"Definitely my mother," Tyree said. "She was a single parent. My father (Jesse) was close but day-to-day seeing how she worked to move us to a better place. I didn't understand at the time, but moving from East Orange (NJ) to a place like Montclair (NJ) was a pretty dramatic move. This is where I found football. She had the wisdom to not only provide for us but to make those decisions that really make an impact on your life. She's always with me and I just treasure her."

At the age of 10, Tyree not only moved but he landed in a football hotbed.

"When I got (to Montclair) it was 1990," he recalled. "Not only were the Giants good, but Montclair High had one of the best teams in the country. There was that air and aroma of football. I didn't really realize what they were talking about at the time, but football was a big part of the community."

After a year to get settled in his new environment, Tyree couldn't resist the temptation to don the pads and lace up the cleats.

"Sixth-grade was the first year I played," he said. "It's what kids did around here. Obviously it changed my life."

One man who was a close witness to that was Tyree's high school quarterback, Brian Roth.

Unlike most people on earth, Roth could actually relate to Eli Manning, whose desperation pass late in Super Bowl XLII was heroically snatched out of the air by Tyree, helping tremendously in leading the Giants to glory.

"He definitely had sure hands," Roth said. "Anytime I was in a jam, I'd just throw it up and I'd know David would come down with it. He had quite a few crazy catches. I remember one that stood out when he caught it with one foot in the air and he got hit and spun around before landing and then running for a touchdown. I'll always remember his work ethic. He made all of us better on the team; he was always pushing everybody.

"Being born and bred in Montclair and having him do that was huge. It was a tremendous source of pride."

While most high school football players have starry-eyed dreams of NFL success, Tyree wasn't among them – at least until he started having great success at Syracuse.

"I never had the desire to go to the NFL," he said. "I always loved the excitement that went along with college football. There was so much excitement and a little more purity. But when I had my son that was probably the first moment that I thought that it would be amazing to be able to provide for him in an awesome way like that. That's when I first thought ‘hey maybe, if I could just get a shot, who knows?' I never imagined that it would elevate to some of the things that I've been able to accomplish."

Who could have?

The instant success certainly hasn't changed Tyree, who remained well-grounded despite the immediate entrance into celebrity status. "I've just been out there enjoying the moment," he said. "Nothing's changed as far as my as my life and my perspective, but just how people view me and their perception of who I am. It won't change me. I'm never shy about my faith and I just give God all the glory and that takes away the ego in those opportunities where it could arise."

Actually, Tyree already misses the days when he flew under the radar.

"I'm not used to being that guy," he laughed. "I kind of enjoyed the fact that I could go places and do what I want to do without the big hassle. When it first happened I kind of got a little anxious about it, but I prayed about it and said ‘God, let me enjoy every moment of this.' It's a great moment and I'm enjoying it."

And he's fully enjoying every second of his fame with his mother right by his side – in spirit, if not physically.

"I don't really feel that my mother has really left me," Tyree said. "As a Christian, as a believer, you live here to live again so she's living with me. Obviously I lose in the physical aspect but from a spiritual realm, I know that she's with me. So when I scored that touchdown, I gave God the glory first and then of course I gave those thoughts to my Mom; she was my biggest fan. It was a special moment."


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