Derrius Guice

Derrius Guice was 5 when his dad was murdered.  
"At that age, I didn't know what death was," Guice says. "So I was like, 'Wait, why is he under the ground right now? What is he doing? Like, what the hell? Is he experimenting?' Bruh, so much stuff was going through my head.

"Days come, I'm still not seeing him. Weeks, months, and I'm just not seeing him. That's when I found out what death was."

Football became Guice's escape. He developed into a star running back for his hometown college team, the LSU Tigers, and is expected to be a top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He made it this far because, in addition to his football skills, he made the right choices. Or as he explained it in the context of his neighborhood, a section of Baton Rouge known as The Bottom, he went right instead of left.

"Walking outside my house, you look left, you got people getting jumped and beat up, and you see people, pants at their kneecaps, you see guns," Guice says. "You look right, you see opportunity.
"And I always went out the house and walked right because I was going to walk to my football field. So, me walking with my shoulder pads and helmet in my hand, my game pants on, my cleats messing up the bottom of stuff, walking to and from practice every day. And I stayed there all day man because that was my happy place, that was where I always wanted to be at."

Unfortunately for Guice, his older brother, Derrick, went left.

"He's in jail now for attempted murder," Guice says. "My brother definitely went left, and that was my best friend growing up ...  He just kept drifting and drifting off. You know, peer pressure is real. Once you get in that game, it's just hard to get out."

Derrick's arrest was two days before LSU hosted No. 1 Alabama.

Derrius Guice

"I wasn't even worrying about Bama," Guice says.." And I know that sounds pretty crazy but like, family first, for real.

The Tigers lost to the Tide 10-0. Guice, the backup to Leonard Fournette that season, rushed for eight yards in two carries.

"It's a choice. He just made the wrong one," Guice says of Derrick. "I done made pretty messed-up choices, but I never made permanent decisions like that. To get involved in stuff like that. I was never involved in gangs and stuff like that. Never. It just wasn't my thing. He just made the wrong choices. He wanted to do that. So, I mean, he had people in his life to guide him. He just never wanted to listen to nobody."

Guice describes his playing style as "running angry." Part of that anger was the result of his father's death. But Derrick's troubles also have contributed to it.

"Him and his brother was real close," their mom, Beulah, says. "A year apart, so everybody thought they were twins. So he always had someone to play with, because they was together."

Derrius Guice

As Derrius got older, he forged a special friendship with three other neighborhood kids, Trevell Johnson, Javahn Ferguson and Charles Vaughn.

"By them going to school or playing sports together it was always a supportive relationship, so it was real good," Beulah says. "I felt like I was a mom to them, because they was always over."

Unless the Saints draft him, Guice will have to move far away. Beulah says Derrius talked to her about that during Christmas last year and how he will find time to stay connected.

"He made sure he got me an iPhone, just so he can FaceTime me," she says.

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