Last Wednesday, I was viewing the Mock Drafts, and wondering who should the Pittsburgh Steelers be picking in the draft. I had names in my head of where players should be drafted, and how the Steelers could use them on their team. While looking at different Mock Drafts and learning players strongest and weakness playing abilities, I would also see what character they were on and off the field. While doing so I read a story that touched my heart. A player that was very good at playing football and had tough times that came in his life at a young age, yet he never gave up. It left a big impression of him in my heart that I wrote his name down on a piece of paper at work, and said “God, Let the Steelers draft this man!”
So let me introduce you to our fourth round pick, 111th overall who played football at Syracuse as a safety, Shamarko Thomas!!!
A player during the combine, who the announcer stated is like a Missile. While listening to the press conference by Carnell Lake, Lake stated “Thomas would have been first round if he was two more inches taller”. That is why Lake thinks teams passed on drafting Thomas. So let us draft a smaller player if that is how they feel. Size is one thing but heart is another! When you have a heart and a linebacker’s mentality with good thickness throughout your frame, make jarring stops by flowing through traffic and lining up your target, you will be respected. Don’t let height fool you of how high a man can leap. At the combine for the vertical jump, Thomas and LSU’s Eric Reid tied for first at their position with respective 40.5-inch verticals. So, experts are comparing Thomas to Troy Polamalu and ex Colt player Bob Sanders. There is so much to say about Thomas’ ability to play the safety position. Yet Thomas is capable of playing other positions and Lake acknowledged that in his press conference.
So with so much ability on the field and so much heart, who is Sharmarko Thomas off the field? I would say a man that has a big heart. When tradegy hits home it sometimes can make you stronger or weaker. Thomas never knew his real father but his step-dad Abdul Shabazz was his father figure. On July 10, 2010 just after he picked up a new part for his motorcycle his step-dad was returning home when a 20-year-old driver lost control of the wheel, swerved out of his lane, and crashed into him. Shabazz was wearing a helmet, but died on impact. He never made it to the hospital. He was pronounced dead. After he passed away his mother Ebeth Shabazz fought to keep the family afloat. In addition to raising six kids, she attended dental school and worked at McDonald’s. Thomas called her his best friend and his source of inspiration. One day, she just told me, “Shamarko, you wanna be great, you gotta work harder than everybody. You gotta be better than all the competition,” Thomas said. “Her favorite quote was ‘work hard until your hands and your feet fall off.’” Thomas and his mother spoke frequently, but one phone conversation in April 2011 sticks out. At the time, Thomas thought it was just another talk. But what his mother said ultimately changed his life forever. “She was like, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I just want you to know you’re my chosen one. I want you to promise me that you are going to try your hardest and your best to make it,’” Thomas said. “I told my mom I’m going to make it and take care of my whole family.”
One day later, on April 18, and nine months after the passing of his father, Thomas received a voicemail from his younger brother. His mother was dead. She went to bed early to prepare for a trip to Chicago to visit her ailing grandmother, but she never woke up. She died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the myocardium becomes too thick, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. She had unknowingly battled the condition for years; it has few symptoms and often goes undiagnosed. When Thomas heard the news, he sobbed so violently that his friend in the upstairs apartment rushed to console him. Football, once his singular focus, took a distant back seat. Thomas was forced to grow up, to transform from a carefree teenager into a man. He could have easily crumbled. Instead, he sought out his grandmother and his faith. “When my momma passed, I’m like, ‘God is punishing me again,’ but I remember my grandma always said, ‘Don’t ever say God is punishing you. He’s rewarding you,’” Thomas said. “He’s making you sacrifice. God don’t put you through what you can’t handle”
The young man that stated he often went without meals so his siblings would have enough to eat. Would now take the parenting role. What shocked me most about Thomas was he could of left Syracuse for the NFL his junior year. Instead he decided to come back to college for his senior year. I would say that Thomas showed his true character when he came back for his senior year. It showed he trusted God and was patient to let God take the wheel. So, yes I would believe that Thomas’ grandmother got it right, God is rewarding him!
So this year, no matter if you are a Steelers fan or not, you have to love where somebody could of given up on life but never did. You have to look at how hard they fought to get where they are in life. Some would go in a deep depression but Thomas instead stepped up to the plate as not only a brother, but also as a fatherly figure to his younger siblings. I myself have to thank God that the Steelers drafted somebody that is world class and to teach us about not giving up. When things go wrong in your life, which they will at times, just remember to hold your head high and think of this story. As well, think of the words and wisdom of Thomas’ grandmother who told him that God was not punishing him but rather was going to reward him. We all have to carry our cross sometime and sometimes it is while we are here on earth. So please, be as excited for this young man as I am!
Let’s welcome him to the Pittsburgh Steelers and make Thomas proud to call us family. He truly deserves to be acknowledge for his sacrifices and perseverance.
God Bless always!