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Mardy Gilyard, University of Cincinnati


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Mardy Gilyard is one of the most unique athletes ever to grace the big stage in Cincinnati. His story is as humbling as it is uplifting. It's not that Mardy was the perfect person all the time. In his own words he was a knucklehead as a freshman. Partying too much, studying too little, focusing on not much at all. His actions as a wide eyed Freshman from Bunnell Florida, caught up in the bright lights of the big city led to his suspension from the team and eventually dismissal from the University. Without his scholarship to cover his tuition Gilyard was staring at a 9,000 bill with no way to pay it, and whats worse, no place to stay. Two years before Gilyard would rise to the dizzying heights of outright fame in Cincinnati and nation wide notoriety Gilyard spent most days wondering where he was going to sleep that night. Often times the answer was a friends couch, or on a floor in the dorms. But some nights were spent parked in the car his then fiancee's brother lent him. Often in the CVS parking lot, 100 yards from campus.

They say that the true measure of a man is how responds when the chips are down. When bad news breaks day after day how does he respond. For Gilyard he responded by going to work, he had a bill to pay, and he desperately wanted back on the team. So he worked 4 and 5 jobs at time to meet his obligations. Selling knives, working construction, delivering pizza's from the car where he slept, you name it Gilyard has probably done it. He paid off that bill and was welcomed back to the team by Brian Kelly. Gilyard was a fixture in the rotation in 2007, a budding star in 2008 and a living legend in 2009. If you ask a College Football fan if they know Mardy Gilyard chances are that they will say yes. And more often than not they will remember his unfortunate run in with a 7 year old fan.

To many their image of Gilyard will forever be wrapped in that incident and his reaction to it. It showed the America just how genuine this young man with a comfortable southern drawl, and shells in his dreads is. But there is another story about Gilyard that is not often told, and not widely known. Back in 2006 when Gilyard was living from couch to couch and occasionally out of his car he often spent his lunch breaks in downtown Cincinnati giving out sandwiches at the homeless shelter. That is a simple story, told in just a sentence, but that doesn't make it any less remarkable. The man who would, in two years time, crash into our collective consciousness with a random act of kindness spent his days in very much the same way when he was a little known kid from Florida without a home. That is what makes Mardy Gilyard so remarkable.

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