My Dad was actually the one who gave me my name. I was born Tyshun Samuel, but he always just called me Deebo.
Y’all know the neighborhood bully from Friday? The guy always getting into scraps with whoever?
Yes, that Deebo.
Way before I was running them back in Williams-Brice, I was just Deebo. That kid from the block who wouldn’t take bunk from nobody.
When I got to Columbia I thought the name would sort of fade away. But somehow, it stuck with me.
Growing up, sports always kept me out of trouble in Inman though. My brother Quan always encouraged me to take them seriously—he didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps. He was into some things with the wrong folk. It wasn’t long before that life caught up with him.
I was 14 or 15-years old when he was sentenced to prison for the first time.
Knowing what he was going through, man it was hard, especially when I had so much I was focusing on for myself.
We’re a few years apart, so when we were younger he’d try and shake me to go out and play ball with his older friends. But I’d always find a way to figure out where they were and get over there. I might have been younger and smaller but I’d never let anyone push me around.
I tell people that Quan taught me everything I know as far as sports go. He taught me to take the game seriously, to take pride in polishing my skills. He wanted a different life for me than most folks in Inman. He always looked after me, sometimes more than he did himself.
He taught me how to compete.
Quan was a big part of that, always encouraging me even when he couldn’t be there physically.
I felt sort of guilty. While I was on the football field getting offers and people were cheering me on, Quan was dealing with some tough times. Ever since we were young we’ve always checked on each other, just to make sure we’re doing alright.
There’s not a day that my brother doesn’t call up to ask how I’m doing. I’m Tyshun and he’s Quan, but when we pick up the phone it’s just, “Hey brother”.
He always watches me play, and he’ll let me know if he sees something he doesn’t like.
Complaining about how gassed I’ll look, or a block I’ve missed. But it’s not always football when we talk. We just always make sure each is doing alright, and no one needs anything.
He’s always encouraged me that I was special, and that’s never changed. He’s found a way to be there for me regardless of his situation, especially helping me through one of my toughest times when I hurt my leg and had to sit out last year.
I went down after running a curl route in the third quarter against Kentucky.
I stayed down for a minute after the play was over. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time. I was able to walk it off and play through it; it was my adrenaline kicking in.
But after a couple plays, I knew it didn’t feel right. The team doctors took a look and told me I’d broken my leg.
I’d had a couple of hamstring injuries year in and year out before, so really I didn’t pay this one much mind. I treated it the same. I attacked the rehab and got myself prepared to play again.
The injury itself wasn’t so hard for me to deal with.
But dealing with not being on the field was a different story.
I’m so blessed to have the support that got me through dealing with the mental side of it. Quan would call up and check on me like he always does. Coach Muschamp and everyone at South Carolina made sure I knew they had my back.
And of course, Marcus Lattimore treated me like family.
It really helped to talk with Marcus about how to deal with the injury. He told me to just be thankful football wasn’t taken away from me. Leg injuries cut his career short. I was lucky all I did was break mine.
We talked about attacking my rehab with an aggressive mentality. All I wanted to do was get back on that field.
It was hard pretty much teaching your foot how to walk again. I definitely had moments where I was like if I can’t even walk right, how am I going to run an out route?
Of course, time heals all things. And eventually, I got better.
Now I’m back on the field doing what I love. Through it all, I’ve just realized that I can’t take anything for granted.
Football, just like life can be taken away at any time. Quan taught me that tomorrow is promised to no man.
Every day, I thank God for how fortunate I am. Without college football, I probably wouldn’t have made it to where I am today and I’m not going to waste it.
I’m also graduating in December with a retail management degree.
I’ve always been into fashion and being the guy who stands out. Growing up my parents always made sure I had the newest gear. Thanks to college football my dream of opening my own clothing line is more of a reality.
But tomorrow isn’t promised.
It can be taken away at any time. That’s why I don’t think too much on what has yet to come like making it to the league or starting my own business. I control only what I can right now, and concentrate on my loved ones.
So value your family members, each member, no matter what trouble they get into. I couldn’t imagine life without my brother; he’s been my rock. He’s reminded me that life like football is promised to no one.
Make the most of what you’re given. Don’t let your environment mold you into something you don’t want to be.
Cherish what you have and harp on that, not the unknown.
Deebo Samuel | Contributor
Wide Receiver, University of South Carolina