Maurice Clarett seems to be doing well for himself these days, which might surprise some people. The former Ohio State halfback was once one of the most promising young runners in the world, but his life seemed to unhinge after he attempted (and ultimately failed) to challenge eligibility regulations and leave OSU early for a head start on the NFL.
After a great career with the Buckeyes, which included a starring role as a freshman on their 2002 National Championship team, Clarett found himself in a deep personal struggle and a heap of legal troubles.
Back in 2006, while already facing charges of aggravated burglary, Clarett led police on a high speed chase in Columbus, Ohio that ended when he ran over a spike strip and was subdued by officers, who were forced to use a taser and mace while trying to bring him down. Inside Clarett’s SUV, police found several loaded guns (including an AK-47) and two swords. Those weapons, along with the fact he was wearing Kevlar body armor at the time, signaled that he may have envisioned a much more violent and deadly end to that pursuit.
Clarett confirmed that suspicion during a recent trip to speak to the Florida State Seminoles, who have had plenty of off-the-field issues within their program lately as well.
“I wanted to have a shootout, with the purpose of me basically killing myself. I didn’t want to live no more. I didn’t want to deal with sh*t no more.”
After spending three and a half years in prison, Clarett is in a much better place and is hoping to share his message and story with young players all over the country, hoping they’ll realize the importance of a higher education. He talked to Jimbo Fisher’s players about how his life fell apart so quickly and so unexpectedly, largely in part because he didn’t want to grow up and wasn’t prepared for a life after football.
“Let me just break it with y’all…only 2% going. Most of y’all dudes are gonna be regular dudes in society. Everybody think they gonna make and it’s cool if you do make it, but do you know ain’t nothing wrong with not making it? …Ain’t nothing wrong with getting an education. If you made it from your neighborhood and you made it on campus and all you did was basically play until the end of Florida State, and you got a real education — not no bulls**t classes — that’s cool.”
It’s heavy stuff, especially for the “big men on campus” who are still in the prime of their athletic careers, but it’s also important. Too often you see dudes who bank on a career playing ball, only to fall short of that reality without any preparation for a life in anything else. It’s rare for guys to make it, but it might be even rarer to see guys fall apart and then bounce back with the strength that Clarett has.