Jets’ Maulet has leaped ob­sta­cles to be­come ‘su­per­hero’

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - SPORTS - By Den­nis Waszak Jr. AP Pro Foot­ball Writer

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) >> Arthur Maulet never imag­ined he’d be where he is to­day.

Not dur­ing those rough child­hood years grow­ing up in New Or­leans’ Ninth Ward. Not when he and his fam­ily were forced from their home by Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina when he was 12.

And es­pe­cially not when he stepped on a field to play or­ga­nized foot­ball for the first time as a high school ju­nior.

So to be a start­ing corner­back for the New York Jets? Maulet knows ex­actly what that younger ver­sion of him­self would think of all this.

“He’s Su­per­man,” the 26-year-old Maulet said with a smile. “He’s a su­per­hero.”

That’s be­cause his jour­ney has been filled with enough twists, turns, hard­ships, ob­sta­cles — and, ul­ti­mately, tri­umphs — to fill a life­time.

“When I was small, I didn’t have these types of as­pi­ra­tions for my­self, I’m go­ing to be hon­est with you,” Maulet said. “But the peo­ple along

the way that brought me up and sup­ported me and helped me along the way, it got me to where I am to­day.”

Maulet has started the last three games for the Jets, help­ing sta­bi­lize a corner­back po­si­tion that was shaky for much of the sea­son as in­juries and in­con­sis­tency had de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gregg Wil­liams plug­ging in any­one he could.

Given a chance, Maulet has suc­ceeded.

Just as he has done so many times in his life.

“He’s played well,” Wil­liams said. “He’s ex­tremely tough and he’s the first guy in here in the morn­ing, last guy to leave at night. He wants to be coached very hard. He wants to get the op­por­tu­nity to do what­ever he can.”

It has been that way for Maulet ever since he was a young­ster in Louisiana, where his fam­ily sim­ply tried to make ends meet from one day to the next.

The liv­ing space was cramped. Money was tight. And the streets, well, they were of­ten harsh.

“There’s things I don’t re­ally want to talk about, to be hon­est,” Maulet said. “It was tough. That’s all I can say. I don’t like liv­ing in the past. I like liv­ing for the fu­ture, so I’m just look­ing for­ward to all the bless­ings that I’m go­ing to have.”

For so long, all Maulet had was hope.

When Ka­t­rina hit the Gulf Coast in Au­gust 2005, Maulet and his fam­ily had to pick up and flee. Their neigh­bor­hood was washed away, along with so many dreams.

They ended up in Ann Ar­bor, Michi­gan, for a year and a half be­fore re­turn­ing to New Or­leans to re­build their lives.

“It was rough, but at the end of the day, it could be worse,” Maulet said. “That’s my motto. It’s cliche, but any­thing can be worse. If there’s a lit­tle bit of hope out there, you’ve got to take that and then walk with it and grind with it and see what you can do with it.”

Maulet found sanc­tu­ary in bas­ket­ball and soc­cer. Foot­ball wasn’t even a thought un­til a buddy suggested they give it a shot.

“I was like, ‘Let’s do it! I ain’t trip­pin’ — I’m an ath­lete. Any­thing with a ball, I’m good at it,” Maulet said. “So I found my niche. I was al­ways good at de­fense in bas­ket­ball and I was good with foot­work in soc­cer, so it worked hand in hand.”

He made the team at Bonnabel High School and was a stand­out as a ju­nior. Be­cause he was 19 as a se­nior, though, he was in­el­i­gi­ble to play his fi­nal year.

STEVEN SENNE - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FILE - In this Sept. 22, 2019 file photo, New York Jets corner­back Arthur Maulet cel­e­brates after he re­cov­ered a fum­ble for a touch­down against the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots in the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game in Foxbor­ough, Mass.

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