Sharrif Floyd could have been a bitter adult, but there is no hint of that poisonous emotion. He could feel sorry for himself, but his mindset is to win, not wallow.
Floyd, the victim of abuse when he was growing up by the man he thought was his biological father, eventually escaped it all through football. Now, on the first Thanksgiving that he has "arrived" – society's term for the financially successful, not Floyd's – he remains as humble and low-key as ever and ready to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time in at least four years.
"It might sound bad coming out of my mouth right now, but I haven't celebrated Thanksgiving in the last three years because of ball. We always had a game on that day. We always ate, obviously, but it's a holiday," Floyd said Wednesday. "It's one of those where you just lock out the outside and when you're in the building do what you've got to do, and when you go home, enjoy your family."
This Thanksgiving morning, Floyd has practice as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings. At noon, "it's all family."
He will be hosting family and friends at his Minnesota residence. It's a long way from his upbringing on the north side of Philadelphia, where he lived at different times with his father, his mother, his high school coach and guidance counselor, and even for a time out of a car.
Eventually, he lived with his grandmother, who was ill and couldn't work, which prompted him to take on a landscaping job to help provide.
"Man, I appreciated what I had no matter what I had. Growing up, I appreciated everything I had," he says now. "You are dealt the cards you are dealt and it's your doing to get you out of it. It's just hard work, but that's just how I look at it. Everybody don't look at it the same. I don't see it as no different as when I didn't have anything.
"We still ate (for Thanksgiving). We'd still find a way to put food on that table. It wasn't like we didn't have anything to eat around those times, so we ate."
But when Floyd became a first-round draft pick of the Vikings and received his signing bonus worth more than $4.2 million, one of the first things he did was buy his grandmother a house near her family in Atlanta.
Thanks to Floyd's resolve, and thanks to the football skills he discovered in high school, things are much different for him and his grandmother now than they were 10 to 15 years ago.
"Everything is all good (with her). She's going to have a good Thanksgiving there, too," Floyd said. "All the family is going to be there. She's got a big family there in Georgia, so I know she's going to be alright, too."
Floyd said his grandma is able to travel, but at nearly 80 years old, he didn't want her getting on a plane by herself. She did, however, attend one his games in Minneapolis earlier this year and had attended a couple of his college games for Florida, but football was never a strong interest for her … and still isn't.
It's a fact he relays with an entertaining story that has obviously been passed down to his generation.
"She knows nothing about the game," Floyd said. "One of my uncles was playing when I wasn't even thought of. One game she saw him getting hit because he was a running back and she jumped on the field screaming, ‘Get off my baby! Get off my baby!' I know she don't know football and she don't know the game. She calls me every Monday: ‘I heard you guys had a game Sunday. Did you win?' That's all she knows. That's all she asks. She doesn't know anything more than that."
On this Thanksgiving, it's clear that Floyd has won. He has executed quite the comeback in life and won big. For that, he can be thankful.
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Even with little, Floyd was always thankful
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