ND's Tuitt made quite the 'journey' just to play football

Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt showed his amazing athleticism in the first game of the season against Navy.

The 305 pounder returned a touchdown 77 yards for a score, running like a wide receiver despite his giant frame.

He's a main reason Notre Dame is playing for a national championship January 7th in Miami against Alabama.

But while Tuitt's body is clearly built to be a football player, it almost never happened. Tuitt wasn't allowed to play sports as a kid and basically only played with his siblings in the backyard.

He was finally given the chance to play football in high school. But before his sophomore year, he had a mandatory weight lifting session. If he didn't go, he wasn't allowed to be on the team. The problem was that Stephon had no way to get there. His mom had to work and couldn't drive him and the high school was 12 miles away.

Stephon's mom told him not to go and just stay at home. But he was determined.

"I really wanted to do it," Tuitt explained this week. "I felt it in my heart. I said I am going to walk. And she said 'You're crazy.'"

Tuitt realized once it was all done his mom was right. During the walk, he realized some things too.

"This is longer than I thought it would be," Tuitt remembers telling himself. "To drive its like 3-5 minutes in a car because you go like 60 [mph] but walking there, you really realize that this is long. It was hot. It was the Georgia weather in the summer."

Stephon finally made it there. And well he still had to do the lift.

"I had already done my work out," Tuitt said with a big laugh about his walk. "Everybody had finished theirs and I get there and try to do mine while everyone else had finished. I had already done mine."

Tuitt didn't completely finish but his coach let him off the hook and then gave him a ride home. It turned out to be a defining moment for Stephon.

"To be honest, I will always remember that throughout my life when I play this sport," Tuitt explains. "That right there, I get emotional talking about it, it started everything."

What a journey.


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