Great Things Do Happen: The Jimmy Graham Story

By Jimmy Gill, University of Miami Sports Administration Graduate Student

There are currently 42 former Hurricanes in the National Football League, but the route that New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham took might have been the most unique. The former UM basketball player has made a successful transition to the NFL after playing just one year of college football. His story is inspirational to all, proving that through hard work and perseverance, truly anything is possible.

Originally from Goldsboro, N.C., Graham's home life as a child has been well-chronicled. He never knew his father and his mother decided to put him in a group home when he was just 11 years old. It was a less than ideal start to life.

However, his life turned around when he met his adoptive mother Rebecca Vinson.

"She helped me and believed in me when nobody did," Graham recalled to the Associated Press. "I remember being a kid, and everyone told me I was going to be nothing, and she believed in me. I owe her everything."

Vinson eventually sent Graham to Charis Prep for high school where he blossomed into a star athlete playing basketball, tennis, baseball and football during his time for the Crimson Tide. He saw the most success on the hardwood, as he averaged 20.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game as a senior, becoming an Honorable-Mention All-American by Street & Smith.

Basketball coaches across the nation took notice, as he became a top recruit.

"I saw this big, red-headed kid that could jump and was very raw offensively," said Miami head coach Frank Haith, bringing up his first impression of Graham. "I loved his tenacity and how hard he played. He was fearless. Jimmy was on the floor more than anybody and was not afraid to take charges. You just loved that about him."

Graham left Charis Prep after basketball season his season year and came to Coral Gables for the spring semester in 2005. He had no idea where his life as a student-athlete would take him.

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