Jets’ Maulet has leaped obstacles to become ‘superhero’
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.
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.