In only his second year in the NFL, Jason Pierre-Paul has emerged as one of the best defensive ends in the league. His 14 sacks are the most of any Giant and fourth in the NFL. That feat becomes even more impressive when you realize Pierre-Paul began playing football when he was 17 years old, and had to go behind his mother’s back to do it.
“I just wasn’t into it,” Pierre-Paul told the Star-Ledger. “I was a basketball player. And my mother even wanted me to quit (basketball), because I hurt my leg. But I didn’t know anything about football — from Pee-Wee on up, my friends would play and I would never go with them.”
Pierre Paul’s mother came from a small town in Haiti and immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s. His father lost his eye sight when Jason was only eight months old, and his mother had become extremely overprotective of him. Like many mothers, Marie did not want her son playing football because of the dangers involved.
Jason adhered to his mother’s demands until he could not longer deal with Deerfield Beach High School (Fla.) football coach Greg Minnis harassing him to give football a shot.
“I told my brother and sister, but I hid it from my mother for most of the year,” Pierre-Paul said. “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 bounced around to two different colleges before becoming a star at South Florida in 2009. His sister, Nadie Therlonge, said their mother is not impressed by Jason’s celebrity status and wishes he would let her work. Nadie says Marie spends most of her time praying for his health while watching Giants games on TV. While she undoubtedly still worries about her son on a daily basis, I’d be willing to bet that deep down inside Marie is glad Jason decided to go behind her back when he was a teenager.
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