Da'Rel Scott Interview
I wanted to post some of the interview I had with running back Da’Rel Scott for my story that runs in Saturday's paper. This is a long interview, but pretty interesting. There may be a reference or two from me about my family situation; that’s because I told Da’Rel and his family about my childhood during some of the interviews.
Q: Why don’t we start with talking about the role religion and Gospel music played in your life.
Scott: My mom always had me and my older brothers going to church. It was just something we did every Sunday, keeping our faith in God. It’s something I do during the week to stay focused and to pray all the time. Listening to my music keeps me calm and keeps me focused on what I have to do.
Q: You listen to gospel music before every game in the locker room?
Scott: Every game. The whole weekend and during the week, too. I do it sporadically throughout the week.
Q: On your iPod?
Q: What are some of your favorites?
Scott: All things Are Worth It. It’s not like a real up-tempo song. It just relaxes me and gets me thinking about all the things I did overcome. I want to be humble, and make a lot of accomplishments on the field.
Q: You mom said she played lots of gospel in the house?
Scott: She played it every morning. Loud. Wakes me up.
Q: When you were little, what did you think of it?
Scott: I liked it back then.
Q: When you play it in the locker room, does it remind you of those days?
Scott: Yes, hanging with my family and listening to gospel together and going to church.
Q: You loved Michael Jordan, and everyone wrongly thinks that is why you wear No. 23, right?
Scott: He was an idol of mine. Yeah, everyone thinks it because I was a Jordan fan, but that’s nothing close to it. My brother, Lee, was a safety, No. 3, and I played a safety in high school. James, No. 20, was a running back. I put those together and came up with 23. I played both of those positions.
Q: Is it a tribute to them?
Scott: Yes, they were my father. They were my father figures. My mother played both roles. They have always been there to help me out.
Q: In talking to everyone around you, they say there has always been a strong support unit around you. Agree?
Scott: Definitely. Outside of my family, you have Mike Shaw. He played a huge part in my life.
Q: How so?
Scott: He has always been there for me. He knew my dad, actually. He knew everything happening. He really took me in and took care of me. Take me places and keep my mind off things.
Q: Mike Shaw he told me he drove you back to College Park from the funeral of your friend who died on the football field. Has he given you specific advice away from the football field that really stuck with you?
Scott: He told me to stay focused, and keep my faith in God and focus on my grades. I’m a smart guy. He wanted me to graduate, get my degree. If I am blessed to go to the NFL, that will happen, but it’s really God’s faith right now.
Q: How about Charles Foster, the athletic director at your high school?
Scott: Yes, he was really close with me because he knew my brothers when they were there. He played a big role.
Q: And Leroy Watson, your cousin?
Scott: Yes, he was always there. And then something happened and he went away for six years, getting locked up and everything. When I was younger, he was always at my football games, cheering me on. When he got out, he was sick and missed my high school career. But he was really hyped up my first college game. He was real hyped trying to be every game. He comes to every home game he can.
Q: Did your father leave when you were eight?
Scott: Yes, I was in third grade.
Q: What do you remember about how it affected you at that time?
Scott: Oh, it affected me a lot. It hurt me a lot. I remember that day like it was [yesterday]. Just seeing him, with my own eyes I saw him leave that day. It just hurt. I had to go to school and everything and I really couldn’t focus in school. I had to come out early. It was just hard. I don’t know. Just having to go day by day, man, I didn’t know where he was.
Q: I always felt like I had to go to school like a robot, lacking much feeling or emotion because you have to fit in with all the other kids who didn’t go through what you went through at home. Did you feel any of that?
Scott: Oh, yeah, man. He and my mom were going at it. And then Lee came in and said, “Relax, don’t do anything to my mom.” And then they went at it. And then there was just a whole big thing with him and my brothers. And he just walked out. Just left.
Q: You were really young.
Scott: I was just out of it, crying everywhere, not knowing what is going on.
Q: Before that time, was he involved a lot in your life?
Scott: Definitely. He was my coach, throughout my youth basketball and football.
Q: So it was a good relationship and it went downhill?
Scott: Definitely. The thing that gets me, okay, he is not getting along with my mom. Okay, that’s not going to work. But you have three sons you should be taking care of. Okay, it’s not always going to work with the marriage. It happens. But why lose your relationship with your kids? He just left us, and left everybody alone. And he let me down so many times, saying he was going to take me out, and then he wouldn’t show up. I’m just sitting there bawling my eyes out like, ‘What’s going on?’ One or two years later he tried to get a relationship with me. Okay, that didn’t work. He tried again. He just kept letting me down. Once I got to my junior year, I was like, ‘I don’t need him.’ That’s why it has made me so humble. I don’t need him. Just work on my school work and football and kind of went away from basketball just trying to do what I needed to do for football.
Q: So from 8 until 16 or so, you kept hope that you could have a relationship?
Scott: Definitely. And then I just was like, ‘Yo, I don’t need him anymore. I went this long. I don’t need him at all.’
Q: And that must have made the pain worse because you were trying to have a relationship?
Scott: Exactly. I was trying to, just day by day thinking I need a father figure in my life. I think that is what has made me so strong because I went without a father figure. It makes me stay humble and NOT want to be like him.
Q: Your brothers were an example of what to be like, and your father was an example of…
Scott: What not to be like. Exactly.
Q: How much have you kept in touch with him, if at all, the past couple years?
Scott: Not at all. One time, when he tried to do something with child support. I took my mom, who doesn’t drive, to the courthouse, that’s when I saw him and I almost went off, and my mom told me to relax. I had to just chill. I almost went off on him. He is just a disappointment. Really. A real disappointment. Okay, you don’t have to be close to my mom, but you have three sons you should be taking care of right now. And he didn’t do that at all. At all.
Q: How much has it been a motivating factor for you in life?
Scott: Definitely. There is a song I always listen to, something I always listen to, gets me motivated and how I don’t need him anymore. “Still Got Love for You,” by Beanie Sigel. That’s something I always listen to, about how their father left them and did not play a big part in their lives.
Q: Lee and James told me you three played pool with your father maybe a year ago. What was that like?
Scott: Yeah, it was real awkward. Us going to pick him up. He wasn’t taking care of himself. He just really didn’t look like my dad, really. Man, what did you do to yourself? All the stuff he was doing. It was weird. We went to play pool a little bit. It didn’t feel right. We tried to make it work. Because he said he wanted to see us and all that. Okay, we have to have that respect for him because he did bring us into the world. We tried to make it work. He was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to keep in touch. I have your numbers.’ Didn’t hear from him. That’s another disappointment. But at that point, I was used to it, so it didn’t really affect me.
Q: You get numb to it?
Scott: I did.
Q: Do you remember any time from 8 to 16, would you be waiting for him when he would say he would come pick you up and hang out?
Scott: Yeah, I would be waiting for him. He would talk to me and say, ‘Okay, I am going to come get you.’ Have a day out, relax, go out to eat. The woman he was with, she had other kids, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I was like, ‘No, I don’t want anything to do with that right now.’
Q: Would you say he left when you were 8 or did you guys kick him out?
Scott: I think it was a little bit of both. My mom was tired of it. She tried to deal with it just to make it work for her kids. I could tell my mom wasn’t into it anymore. That just solidified it. And he was gone. My brothers were like, ‘You’ve got to get out.’
Q: Lee told me he got laid off from his job at the National Label Company in Lafayette Hill, Pa.?
Scott: Yeah. Maybe a year or two after that [he left]. He was out. He was out and my mom wasn’t stupid. She knew what he was doing.
Q: Did you know as a kid how hard it was on your mom?
Scott: I did, and that’s why I have so much respect for her. She did so much for us in spite of that. Going through her divorce. Going through not having anyone to go to, like a husband or anything. She has been so strong for us. That’s is why I have so much respect for her.
Q: Was money a problem after he left?
Scott: It was. We struggled. We got through it. She did everything she could, work two jobs and everything. She did a lot for us. She would do anything for us before she did anything for herself.
Q: Was it a small apartment?
Scott: Yes, a small apartment. We moved, and that’s when Lee and James were gone and went on to college and everything. It was just us four there. My mom, me, aunt Karen and my cousin. We stayed a couple years. And that’s when we moved to where we live now. And we’ve been there for a while. It’s a small apartment, two bedrooms. It’s like a block away from the Fellowship House, where my mom works.
Q: I was driving home from Philly thinking, here’s this father with three sons, all doing well, and the youngest is an emerging college football star, maybe a couple years away from the NFL, does he even know what you are doing?
Scott: I couldn’t even tell you. He supposedly when I was in high school kept up by reading about me and everything. I couldn’t even tell you if he knows about me now. I don’t know if he is in jail right now. I don’t know where he is at.
Q: Was he in jail?
Scott: He was in jail, in and out. Last I heard was that he went back and messed up his patrol.
Q: What was the crime?
Scott: Yeah, maybe. He and his other friend he has had, his girlfriend or whatever, doing something stupid.
Q: Your mom and I talked about, in both of our situations, how a father could get so tempted by different things, be it the streets, drugs, alcohol, women, whatever it may be, and he chooses that rather than a family that would have welcomed and embraced him.
Scott: I don’t know how. I ask myself that all the time. Why would he do that? He had a great wide. He had three great sons. I don’t know why he would choose that life. I don’t know what was in his head thinking that’s a better life out there. And look at him now, he’s not doing anything with himself. That’s what he gets. That’s what I have to say. That is what he gets by choosing the wrong road.
Q: When you are 8, you maybe can’t process everything correctly. What were the thoughts?
Scott: I really didn’t have too many thoughts. I was just like, Why would he leave? What did I do? What happened? When I got to high school, I was like, ‘I didn’t do anything [wrong]. It wasn’t me.’ I don’t know what was in his head.
Q: For the longest time, I couldn’t talk about my situation, not until I got out of high school. Was that similar to you?
Scott: Yeah, talking about it made me get so angry so I didn’t want to talk about it at all.
Q: How do you channel that anger into something positive?
Scott: I have done that many times. That is why I listen to that song, because it really motivates me. And when it’s game time, I just unleash it on the field, but in a controlled way.
Q: Do you run so hard in any way because of what you have been through?
Scott: I think so. Because I am on a mission to try to be a successful person, really. That does play a big part.
Q: Would you want to say anything to him now?
Scott: No. I have no words for him anymore, to be honest.
Q: Did the emotions change from when you were 8 until now?
Scott: Yes. I can control them. I can block them out, and not worry about them anymore. Usually, it would just mess my whole day up thinking about it. Now I’m just like, in the back of my mind, like it’s nothing anymore.
Q: When you were 8, you were in your apartment that day, and there was a fight and he walked out?
Scott: Yes, and after that it kind of messed me up. And that’s why I just did so many sports and so many activities. Try to keep my mind off it.
Q: Did you know what was happening that day, at 8, or did someone sit you down and tell you?
Scott: I kind of figured. My mom told me, ‘I don’t think he is coming back.’ When I got older, I kind of realized what happened and I wanted my dad to come back at least to have a relationship with me. It didn’t happen. That’s what hurt me. I kept thinking about it, wanting a relationship. And all of a sudden, one day it hit me, I don’t need him anymore. I really don’t. I have gone through so many things without him.
Q: How much motivation is there to reach the NFL and reward your mother for everything?
Scott: There is a lot of motivation. The one thing about my mom, everything she went through, that’s my inspiration right there. All the stuff she went through, and she is still a strong woman. Doing the things she does. She’ll do anything for anybody. She doesn’t think for herself. That’s my inspiration right there. She gets me going. When there is a home game, and she is in the stands, that is just, it gets my blood flowing. It gets me ready to run all over everybody.
Q: Is there anything you want to add?
Scott: My family is a big part of my life. That’s what gets me going every day, just thinking about them, what they helped me with and got me through. Plus my aunt, that’s hard for me to talk about sometimes, but I think about her every day. And that gets me going, too. She was a godly person to, going to church all the time. I write her name on my wrist every game. Karen Jackson. My mother’s sister.
Q: What happened to her?
Scott: My cousin, the one we lived with. He was like a brother. We were close. He was like a year-and-a-half older than me. We moved and then they stayed there a little bit and then they moved to Norristown. He started to change every year, got a little more crazy. He would just do some ridiculous stuff. One day, I came home from a track meet, and I was looking for a formal [outfit] with one of my friends. I got a call from one of my friends, who said he thought my cousin did something to her. I called my mom, ‘Mom, what happened?’ She was just blank. I knew something was wrong. She was like, ‘She is gone.’ I almost dropped my phone. I was like, ‘Wow.’ And then she was like, ‘He killed her.’ He just killed her. I don’t know.
Q: So on your wrist…
Scott: I write R.I.P. Aunt Karen. Then I write faith on top. It was like my junior year during track.
Q: In a situation like that, who did you turn to?
Scott: James and Lee. I knew my mom was being super strong, but she was going through a lot. That was her sister, and they talked every morning. And she knew something was happening because they talked every morning and they didn’t talk that morning. They tried to get in touch with her and it was not happening. It was really my brothers [who I turned to]. Just talking to them, and that hurt me. I remember that night, I wanted to go searching for my cousin. He was in the police station, they caught him and everything. I wanted to go get him and, I don’t know. Because that was like my brother and …
Q: So you were kind of betrayed by him and then you lose her.
Scott: Yeah, that hurt. That made me stronger, too, thinking about that and just trying to do stuff for her, too. She always said I would make it and be a successful person and everything. That is definitely my motivation, too.
Q: What did your brothers tell you when that happened?
Scott: They had to grab me. I went crazy that night. I don’t know what happened. My mom had to relax me. My brothers had to calm me down. It took a lot for them to get me. I just broke down after that. It was hard.
Q: Mike Shaw told me you had a lot of “little tragedies” in your life, was there anything else that has left a permanent mark? Was it your friend dying on the football field?
Scott: Yes, that is what I write on my wrist, too. He is on my right, she is on my left. Vince. R.I. P. Vinny B. I write 72 because he was No. 72.
Q: Where were you when you got the news?
Scott: I was in camp [at Maryland]. I got a call from one of my friends. Then I called my mom and she didn’t know anything about it. Then I called one of my friends and they said it was true. I called my mom back just bawling. How did this happen? He and I used to go to games together. He used to pick me up from my house and we used to go to games before we warmed up and everything. He picked me up every day after school. We used to go to games together. That really hurt me, too. And I was chilling with him a couple days before I went to camp. I went over his house, we all chilled, me and a couple guys. Relaxing like it was nothing. And that’s the last thing I remember, just seeing his face then. I try to keep in touch with his parents, but it has been hard. It is kind of hard for me to bring it up because I don’t want them to relive it.
Q: Mike Shaw drove you back to College Park, right?
Scott: He helped me. He said to keep my faith in God. We talk on the phone sometimes. It was a quiet ride because I was still shocked. And then I had to go back to camp and practice. It kind of just messed me up a little bit.
Q: In that support group, anyone else you would put in that circle?
Scott: Leroy is in there. Charles Foster, as I got older. Junior year and senior year.
Q: Did he help you go on your senior trip?
Scott: Yes, he did. Florida. Disney. He helped me with that. He took me to his office and said, yeah, don’t worry about it. He helped me out and paid for it. He definitely helped me out with that. I would definitely put him in there. Coach Kline, Rodney Kline, [one of my football coaches] worked out with me, one on one and helped me get ready for college. Antonio Davis, too, [a trainer] when I used to work out at King of Prussia. Coach Mike put me in that and paid my way for that. And then after a couple years I kept going. And then Antonio said I didn’t have to pay anymore and he took care of that [through high school].
Q: Last time you talked to your father?
Scott: Either that time when we shot pool, or a couple times after that when he tried to call. I am thinking the last time we played pool.
Q: Not like you get anything on your birthday, right?
Q: Where’d you play pool?
Scott: Somewhere in Philly. I forget where the place was. We really didn’t want to go out to eat with him, that wasn’t happening. So we just said, bowling or pool, something relaxing, nothing too major. Just a pool hall and chill there and play pool.
Q: You still have anger?
Scott: I do. I think I am always going to have anger because of how he did me. It is always going to be there. It is not going to go away. No way at all.
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