Evelyn Thomas, a proud great-grand-mother. Photo by Xavier Higgs
Heisman Trophy winner Robert Giffin III. Associated Press photo
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
African American college football fans all around the nation were overjoyed to see Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III win the Heisman Trophy this past weekend. Stanford’s Andrew Luck was the favorite all season long, but Griffin’s magical 2011 season compelled voters to change their mind.
Passing for 3,998 yards with 36 touchdowns to only six interceptions, while completing 72.4 percent of his passes easily swayed a lot of voters. 644 rushing yards and nine more touchdowns sealed the award for Griffin. He even caught a pass for 15 yards.
There were a number of Los Angeles area fans that were rooting for Griffin, but one fan was brought to tears, as she is his biggest West Coast fan. Evelyn Thomas, his great- grandmother, who lives in Altadena, praised the Lord when his name was called because she felt blessed to watch her great-grandson win the Heisman Trophy.
“I was sitting down in the den by the television, and I saw him take a deep breath,” Thomas said. “And when he took a deep breath the lady said, ‘Now I’m going to present the Heisman Trophy to…’ And when she said that, he just took a deep breath, and when she said Robert Griffin III, I jumped up, I screamed, I was crying, I said ‘Thank ya, thank ya, thank ya Jesus!’ I was in a daze. When he broke out into that big ole smile, I said ‘Oh Lord you have blessed me wonderfully.'”
Griffin was born in Japan, where his parents were both U.S. Army Sergeants. The family moved to the state of Washington, and then to New Orleans, before settling in Copperas Cove, Texas. Thomas would make trips to Texas to see Griffin and his siblings when they were growing up.
“As a kid he collected action figures and would spend hours in his room alone playing with them,” Thomas said. “His favorite one was Superman.”
Griffin was a lot like his favorite super hero. In high school he played football, basketball, and he ran track. He was a great football player, but he was an even better sprinter on the track team.
Griffin broke the state records for both the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles, running 13.55 seconds in the 110 hurdles and 35.33 seconds in the 300 hurdles.
Athletics was Griffin’s strength, but he was also a super hero in the classroom, graduating high school with a 3.67 GPA.
“He is a very, very, intelligent child,” Thomas said. “He’s very quiet. He doesn’t go out partying. What ever he endeavors that’s what he works for. He has a beautiful GPA. He’s been having it ever since he was in high school.”
Griffin has already graduated from college and he is now attending graduate school, and he plans to one day be a lawyer. But the NFL is waiting for him.
Griffin is close to his great-grandmother, and he even dedicated Baylor’s game against Kansas this past season to her. Of course Baylor won the game in dramatic fashion with a fourth quarter comeback which led to Baylor’s double overtime victory, and it helped propel Griffin into the Heisman race.
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