A big congratulations to the CFV finishers from the 2014 Rough Creek Trail Run!!! Reah also made the trip but unfortunately wasn’t around for the picture.
The tattoo on his forehead reads “Damebo.” It’s his nickname. He got it when he was high.
“I do regret it but I don’t.”
It’s a reminder of his missteps, but also of how far he’s come.
“I was a thug, a street guy, basically. … Selling weed, doing weed, doing cocaine.”
Damian Relierford dropped out of high school, had a child by the time he was 19 and twice went to jail—the first time for fraud, the second for throwing an empty beer can at his son’s mother. All along, one thing never wavered: his passion for football.
Relierford had shown talent for the sport early in life. And it was no surprise. His uncle is Fresno State wide receiver Josh Harper, whom the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation named to the 2014 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list in mid-July. Another uncle, Matt Harper, is assistant special-teams coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. And his grandfather is Willie Harper, outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers from 1973 to 1983 and a 1972 All-American at the University of Nebraska.
When Relierford found himself in jail for the second time—at 20— he started having some realizations. Looking back on his short life of transgressions, he began thinking about what could have been.
“I felt like I wasted a lot of time,” he said.
In the moment, he thought, “I did all that to myself. If I want to give my son a better opportunity than I had, I need to get myself together.”
And he did.
Today, the 23-year-old is enrolled at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, after earning a football scholarship to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics school. He left Aug. 12—his first time on an airplane, his first time outside California.
His goal: The NFL. But “No. 1 is get my degree.” He promised grandma. He’s focused on majoring in social work and minoring in special education or physical education.
“I wanna work with kids like myself, try to help them and guide them in a different direction, give them the help that I didn’t have,” Relierford said.
Most importantly, he added, he wants to “make it” for his mother, Nikki, a single parent who raised him and his two siblings by working multiple jobs.
“To give her the life she never had.”
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