It seems every year when we tale a look at the backgrounds of the Panthers UDFA's during training camp an inspiring story of player's overcoming personal tragedy to get a shot at the NFL. This year is no exception, in fact Byron Bell is one of the more compelling stories yet.
He lost his father to a heart condition when he was a child and being the oldest of 4 kids he was the 'protector' in his words. Given his size I imagine he was prestty good at it. Yet when in college in 2007 he suffered a major tragedy, his family house burned down claiming the life of his 8 yr old brother:
"That's why I play, because of (Isaiah)," Bell said he told his teammates in the meeting. "I said I'm not even in it for the money. I just want to get enough money so I can get my mother a home. That's it."
He went through a real rough spot after that, blaming himself for not being there to save him.
"He was just mad at the coaches, mad at the whole system. Football was not important at that time," Sandra Bell said. "He felt like he should have been at home, and felt if he would have been there, he could have saved the house, could have saved Isaiah."
That's a tough thing for a 19 year old kid to carry around. The post is a real good read and I would do it no justice to paraphrase anymore of it.
Bell is in a great spot to make this roster. With RG Geoff Schwartz unable to get on the field with a hip injury the Panthers desperate for someone to step up at RG. He has the size and obviously has the motivation. All he needs is technique and the Panthers staff seems very capable. Given the Panthers were the only team to give him a private work out says a lot. I will be pulling for Byron Bell.