Arguably one of the greatest freshmen to ever play college football, Maurice Clarett visited Eastern on Feb. 26 to speak to students about the rise and fall of his football career, and his life choices about drugs, alcohol and partying. Clarett's constant refrain, "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future," reminded students that friends can lead you to great things or down the wrong path, as was the case for Clarett.
His story began with memories of his youth and incarceration for stealing vehicles and breaking and entering. After his third incarceration, he was taken under the wing of Roland Smith, a juvenile corrections officer who agreed to mentor Clarett and be the father the teen so desperately needed. From this positive reinforcement, Clarett became a football star, graduated early from high school, and attended college at The Ohio State University, where he became the first freshman to start for the Buckeyes in 48 years and set rushing records as a freshman.
Nonetheless, things began to fall apart for Clarett at Ohio State. He ran into his old friends from the street and began to make poor decisions, delving into the world of drinking, partying and crime. As a result, he was kicked off the football team in the summer of 2003.
The loss of football led Clarett into a tailspin of depression. "I substituted drugs, women and the party lifestyle because I still craved the attention of the thousands of screaming fans that football provided me but that I no longer had access to." In 2005-06, Clarett was given a second chance when the Denver Broncos of the National Football League drafted him. Even that second chance could not help Clarett; the drugs, partying and depression continued. "Drugs had me so far in their control, party all day, party all night and it destroyed me."
After his release by the Broncos, Clarett's life spun further out of control, as he succumbed to the street life. On Aug. 9, 2006, Clarett was put in jail after his arrest for weapons possession and speeding. He spent the next four years in jail, saying of the experience, "Prison can either humble you or turn you into an animal. I became a humble man."