Men­tors wel­come Car­rier

Houston Chronicle - - SPORTS - JENNY DIAL CREECH

Since he heard the news that Ty­ron Car­rier is headed back to Hous­ton, Ray­mond Cain has been un­able to hide his joy.

Cain, as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Lamar High School, met Car­rier years ago at At­tucks Mid­dle School in Sun­ny­side, and the two forged a re­la­tion­ship that mir­rors one of a fa­ther and son.

“It’s just sheer ex­cite­ment,” Cain said. “I know how much he loves this city and his fam­ily and the Univer­sity of Hous­ton. All of those things are here. Now he is, too.”

Cain isn’t the only one happy about Car­rier head­ing home to be Cougars as­sis­tant head coach/ wide re­ceivers coach on Dana Hol­gorsen’s staff. The for­mer Wor­thing High School and UH

stand­out ath­lete has touched so many in Hous­ton by be­ing a role model and men­tor. He also has been a shin­ing ex­am­ple for so many oth­ers who started out where he did.

“I con­sider him my son,” Cain said. “And to have him back home is more spe­cial than I can ex­plain.”

Car­rier grew up in South Park, a neigh­bor­hood in the south­cen­tral part of the city. Dur­ing his child­hood in the 1990s, South Park was rid­dled with crime. Car­rier said at a young age he hoped he would be able to make it out of the neigh­bor­hood.

“Lots of drugs,” said Jules Pi­chon, Car­rier’s fifth-grade teacher at Mad­ing El­e­men­tary School.

Pi­chon, now prin­ci­pal at John­son Ju­nior High in Chan­nelview ISD, also grew up in South Park. He taught at the el­e­men­tary school there in hopes of show­ing chil­dren from the area they had op­tions to get away from it.

“I think we all love our neigh­bor­hood and where we are from, but it is an area where there is al­ways a feel­ing that this is the ceil­ing,” Pi­chon said. “You can’t imag­ine do­ing bet­ter. It’s a re­al­ity that few over­come.”

Car­rier seemed de­ter­mined to from a young age. Pi­chon said that as a fifth-grader, Car­rier dis­played three types of tough­ness: men­tal, phys­i­cal and emo­tional.

“I knew he didn’t have the eas­i­est up­bring­ing, but he worked hard at school, he re­ally paid at­ten­tion, and he was re­ally in­quis­i­tive,” Pi­chon said. “He was a great ath­lete, and other stu­dents looked up to him.”

Those qual­i­ties, Pi­chon said, helped pave the way for Car­rier’s fu­ture. He would go on to be a star ath­lete at Wor­thing in foot­ball and track. UH of­fered him a spot in both sports, and he com­mit­ted. He in­jured his an­kle as a high school se­nior, but the school hon­ored his schol­ar­ship.

Car­rier quickly showed that then-UH coach Kevin Sum­lin was wise to do so. He fin­ished his ca­reer tied for the NCAA record with seven kick­off re­turns for touch­downs. He also set an NCAA record with two or more re­cep­tions in all 53 of his games at UH. He ended up with 320 re­cep­tions for 7,490 yards.

In ad­di­tion, he ran on the track team and com­peted in the 2008 U.S. Olympic tri­als, where he ran the 200 in 20.54 sec­onds.

Achiev­ing all of that wasn’t easy. Car­rier, who suf­fers from asthma, came down with the flu the sum­mer be­fore he started at UH.

By that time, Cain had be­come a close fam­ily friend. Car­rier’s mother was be­tween homes at the time and asked if he could help and take in Car­rier.

“There was no ques­tion,” said Cain, a sin­gle fa­ther. “I was happy to have him.”

For the next sev­eral years, Car­rier lived with Cain on and off. Cain was work­ing on a master’s de­gree and then a doc­tor­ate dur­ing the time.

“We would talk about a lot,” Cain said. “I would bounce ideas off of him. He was in­cred­i­bly smart and in­ter­est­ing. It was a great time for both of us, I think.”

Car­rier would wake up ev­ery morn­ing by 5:30 a.m. to head to school for work­outs. He was home in the evening study­ing along­side Cain and keep­ing up well with his classes and ath­let­ics.

“His drive and pas­sion were ev­i­dent,” Cain said. “It was clear he would be suc­cess­ful.”

Whether he knew it at the time, Car­rier was pick­ing up a lot from Cain.

“To be a good coach, you have to be a teacher,” Car­rier said. “I learned that from Dr. Cain. He was a great in­flu­ence on me and re­ally helped trans­form me.”

Cain and Pi­chon are two of the men Car­rier cred­its with help­ing raise him into the per­son he’s be­come. There are oth­ers — coaches, teach­ers, friends. Car­rier watched the peo­ple he ad­mired and picked up their best qual­i­ties.

“He was al­ways study­ing peo­ple,” Pi­chon said.

After col­lege, Car­rier played two sea­sons for the Mon­treal Alou­ettes of the Cana­dian Foot­ball League. He had one NFL try­out and even­tu­ally de­cided to coach. He spent one sea­son as a grad­u­ate as­sis­tant at Bay­lor be­fore join­ing Hol­gorsen’s staff at West Vir­ginia.

Last week, Hol­gorsen hired him at UH.

“It’s spe­cial,” Car­rier said. “I had to scratch and claw to get out of my neigh­bor­hood. I worked hard. I think that’s some­thing I can show oth­ers that they can do, too.”

Car­rier’s path and his suc­cess will speak vol­umes to re­cruits in the area. He’s a shin­ing ex­am­ple of over­com­ing the odds.

“He didn’t have it easy,” Cain said. “Be­ing from where he is from and then hav­ing in­juries that held him back.

But he al­ways found a way to stay the course and to fol­low his pas­sion.

“He cares a lot about the Univer­sity of Hous­ton. His ded­i­ca­tion and per­se­ver­ance will help that pro­gram. He’s go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence.”

Jim Ly­tle / As­so­ci­ated Press

UH’s Ty­ron Car­rier fin­ished his ca­reer with seven kick­off re­turns for touch­downs and ended up with 320 re­cep­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.