Perhaps some Buckeye fans remember Grant and some don’t. He was a five star linebacker prospect out of the state of Virginia who had massive expectations coming into his first season at Ohio State. He was dubbed by many as the next legendary Buckeye linebacker following the line of Jack Tatum, AJ Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Chris Spielman, and many more.
But Grant underachieved to put it nicely in his first couple years at Ohio State, and he even suffered the loss of his father in his junior season. This gave him doubts about continuing his football career, but he returned and did so not by being the next Tatum or Spielman, but by being the best Curtis Grant that he could be – and fortunately enough, I got the chance to meet him.
Being from Richmond, Virginia myself, I do not live far from where Grant played his high school football, at Hermitage High School. At the time, my grandmother was in her last few months of her life after a battle with breast cancer. Her Hospice nurse noticed our Buckeye fanaticism and mentioned that she knew Grant from high school. A week or so later when the team had a break to go home, Grant entered our living room to see my grandma.
This was shortly after the passing of Grant’s father, so he was by no means obligated to visit us or even care. He did anyway. He greeted my grandma with a hug and talked to her about how she was doing. Despite her condition, I saw the smile that it brought to her face.
It’s not every day that one gets to meet the captain of the football team from The Ohio State University, but I along with my grandma and family enjoyed the moment. She along with the rest of us asked Grant questions about the team, who at the time was preparing for their showdown against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
My father and I then showed Grant our Ohio State themed basement, and he said that he had never seen anything like it. His first comment was, “Y’all definitely are no fair-weather fans.”
He walked around the room in awe of the memorabilia that my dad has collected over the years. But after the tour of the room, Grant gave my grandmother a piece of memorabilia that held way more worth than any of the memorabilia that we already had – including star lineman Orlando Pace’s real locker from his playing days, more worth than our 2002 National Championship tickets, and even more worth than our single football with a signature from every one of Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy winners.
He presented her with an Ohio State sweatshirt signed by him also with the initials – “BWP.” Bless With a Purpose.
Leading into his senior season, his starting role was in jeopardy to current linebacker Raekwon McMillan, another five star linebacker from Georgia. But Grant put those doubts to rest as he became the captain of the defense, a captain of the team, and the captain of the return of the Silver Bullets.
My grandmother eventually passed away about a month later. The Buckeyes fell to the Spartans that season, but they obviously followed that up with an impressive season after that. She didn’t get to see Grant and the Buckeyes win the National Championship the next year, but I imagine that she was keeping an eye out from heaven. I would also imagine that Grant’s father was watching along with her.
It was awesome for my family and I to have a personal connection to the 2014 championship team, but even if the Buckeyes had fallen this short of that feat, all that truly mattered was Grant’s blessing that he gave to my grandmother. If there is anything that Grant taught me during his visit that I could apply to my own life, it was simply to Bless With a Purpose.