Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but his career wouldn't have happened had it not been for his siblings' ability to keep a big secret from their mother.
"If someone told me it would be like this five years ago, I'd tell them they lie, you know?" Pierre-Paul told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I didn't think of football growing up. This wasn’t my career, something I chose. It was something I was picked in."
The Giants defensive end was born near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to parents who immigrated from Haiti in the early 1980s. While at Deerfield Beach High School, he played basketball only -- at first. Pierre-Paul says had no plans to join the football team, despite the constant badgering from the school's coaches.
"One day I had a car at school, and someone showed him where I parked. (Deerfield head football coach Greg Minnis) was waiting there for me," Pierre-Paul said. "He grabbed me and said, 'You're coming with me today.' So I'm thinking, 'Okay, he came all this way to talk me into it, let me see what he’s talking about.' And I tried it."
Just a few months before turning 17, Pierre-Paul was on the football field for the first time, but he had to keep his new sport from his mother, Marie. It turns out dear old mom, from a town outside Port-au-Prince in Haiti, didn't want to see him hurt. So she was very overprotective of her son, according to Pierre-Paul's older sister, Nadie Therlonge.
While becoming a star on the prep gridiron, Pierre-Paul entrusted his secret to his siblings. "I told my brother and sister, but I hid it from my mother for most of the year," Pierre-Paul told the Star-Ledger. "But she was like, 'Why you home from school so late?' And I'd tell her I was studying, getting homework done. Finally, I had to tell her it was homecoming game, and she needed to come. That took awhile for her to accept that."
After high school, Pierre-Paul played at three colleges -- College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., in 2007, Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College in 2008, and South Florida in 2009. He ended up a first-round pick (15th overall) by the New York Giants in 2010.
With a team-leading 14 sacks to go with 76 tackles through 14 games, Pierre-Paul is being called the MVP of G-Men's defense this season.
Pierre-Paul's had to deal with family tragedy growing up: His father Jean lost his eyesight when Jason was only eight months old. His mom had to work two jobs to support the family and did her best to keep the kids out of trouble. Pierre-Paul's mother isn't impressed by her son's celebrity; it means nothing to her, according to his sister.
"The money, the recognition -- she doesn't believe in that. She watches the games, but mostly she prays a lot, asks the Lord to protect him," Nadie Therlonge said. "Now she complains that Jason won't let her work. She says, 'I need to work,' but Jason won't allow it."
Jason Pierre-Paul blew away NFL scouts before the 2010 draft
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