For Jacksboro senior running back D.J. Thomas, he has showed courage in the face of his adversity.
With all of the troubles he has had to deal with, Thomas has kept his head up and has become one of the driving forces behind Jacksboro's run to the playoffs.
Taking off for the end zone is easy compared to all of the things he has gone through.
"I got a rock thrown at me he says it was stuck on my head and it was busted wide open. I had to get stitches. That fifth grade summer I was out mowing a lawn and my grandma went to the store so I figured I could get the whole back yard mowed so maybe I can get some candy or something. I was backing up and their was a whole behind me and cut my toe off. I tried to get up an walk but I had to learn how to walk again. My seventh grade year I hurt my ankle real bad. I was out for a few weeks. *third grade year it was days before out first game. And we were lifting weights and I lost my balance. I feel back and my elbows . With the weights still on my arms. I just broke my arms there were looking crooked," said Thomas.
The injuries were not the only adversities he had to deal with.
There were issues with his family.
D.J. was raised by his grandparents Linda and Clifford Stewart.
The Stewarts picked up their grandson from D.J.'s parents just after he was born and brought him to Jacksboro from Huntsville.
"I grew up here. And they raised me real good. Made more good friends," said Thomas.
A few years later when D.J. was in the second grade, he moved back with his parents because they were financially stable.
A year after living with his parents, D.J. moved back to Jacksboro with his grandparents.
He moved back because he missed his friends and his parents got into some trouble.
After several years of living with his grandparents sadly both passed away in the span of a couple of years.
His grandfather passed away in 2007 while is grandmother died in 2009.
A year later D.J's aunt and uncle got custody of him, they already had custody of his little brother.
We feel real blessed to have him and his siblings. It has made our family complete,"said D.J.'s aunt Roni Winters.
Jacksboro head coach Brian Hodnett has also played a big role in D.J.'s life.
When coach Hodnett became part of the Jacksboro staff in D.J.'s freshmen year, D.J. was a lineman.
That's because that is all he played due to his size growing up.
D.J. trimmed down because of his love for running and wanting to run like Usain bolt.
That speed led him to being a running back.
"He is just a great kid, great kid. He was voted a captain. When he says something, they listen. He leads by example. he is a hard worker," said Hodnett
Last season, D.J. decided not play football.
He wanted to concentrate on track.
D.J. say what got him back on the football field was that he missed the game.
Thank goodness for the Tigers,
Thomas has rushed for nearly 1500 yards and 20 touchdown this season.
He still hasn't closed the door on his first love which is track and field and getting to the Olympics.
"I want him to go as far as he can go. I want him to meet every goal that he has. He wants to go to the Olympics I want him to go to the Olympics," said Winters.
Teammate, friend, role model, an all around good young man.
With his determination and drive, don't be surprised if he does meet his goal of running in the Olympics.
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