Jason Avant article on his tough journey from childhood to now

Submitted by M-Wolverine on December 25th, 2012 at 11:05 PM

Great Christmas Day story on what Jason Avant over came to be the man he is today.


Rough neighborhoods, bad actions, family problems, and with family, religion, and Michigan, went on to become a model for NFL players, and people in general. (As well as an MGoBlog favorite).



December 25th, 2012 at 11:23 PM ^

Jason Avant once said, the reason he chose Michigan was that Lloyd Carr was the only head coach in the country who had the guts to go visit he and his family in the Chicago projects.

Section 1

December 26th, 2012 at 12:21 AM ^

There's not a player in my lifetime who makes me happier or prouder to be associated with the Michigan football program.  One of the happiest days of my life in the recent years was the privilege, after Jason Avant won an award from the Bob Ufer Quarterback Club, to shake his hand and tell him exactly that.

Thanks for posting this, M-Wolverine.

There was an exceptionally beautiful telling of this story way back in 2007.  It was by Mark Snyder of the Free Press.  And the way things go at that paper, its no longer available online without going into their paywalled archives.  (Via a search engine that is almost completely useless.  If Mark Snyder himself can post a link to the archived article, I'll personally buy a copy.)


December 26th, 2012 at 7:24 AM ^

chasing gangsters, it is a pleasure to read those things about anyone, much less a guy who so wonderfully represents Michigan.  i didn't know that about jason, my new favorite wolverine.   if he stays in philly, does that mean i have to root for the eagles?


December 26th, 2012 at 8:12 AM ^

"I think a Bentley looks fine. But what's that going to lead to? It's not necessary. What that is going to lead to is more distractions."

It's unfortunate that more NFL players don't have Avant's wisdom and insight.

Victor Hale II

December 26th, 2012 at 9:13 AM ^

While working inside state prison in Jackson (2004 IIRC), I had a chat with an inmate whose last name was Avant.  He was from Chicago (lots of guys from neighboring states get locked up here in MI).  Naturally, I had to ask him if he was any relation to the UM player, and he acknowledged that they were cousins.  I had no reason to doubt him...still don't. 

The same thing happened with some other inmates that had fairly well-known last names that we MI sports fans would know.  Sometimes I wasn't so sure about the veracity of their claims, but other times there was simply no doubt that they were cousin, brother, etc. of the well-known sports figure.


December 26th, 2012 at 8:28 AM ^

""You are a steward over what you have and if you let it get to your head, it can get stripped away."

Someone was carrying a sack of sliced Vidalias nearby when I read that last quote from Avant.

Wonderful story about someone who embodies many of the best things about the program and the University, right down to becoming a leader and mentor.

Thanks for sharing this, M-Wolverine.


December 26th, 2012 at 9:24 AM ^

awesome story. Avant has just catapulted up my favorite Wolverines rankings.
my wife read the article too and she was very impressed. Normally she isn't very fond of my UM sports obsession but she now realizes that a lot of these guys are very high character individuals.
God bless him and his family.
p.s. Merry (late) Christmas to all.


December 26th, 2012 at 10:55 AM ^

Even while at Michigan, Jason Avant struck me as someone with a good character. Not only was he one of the best possession receivers that, personally, I have seen play at Michigan (he literally caught pretty much everything thrown his way), but based on his interviews while playing at Michigan, and his character on the field, he always struck me as a very humble and hard working person. He was never flashy, in your face, flaunting. He went out, worked hard, made some crazy (one-handed) catches, 

snarling wolverine

December 26th, 2012 at 1:11 PM ^

I had the chance to meet Jason when he was at U-M.  He was about the nicest person you could ever meet.  He's really had to go through a lot.  Even at Michigan, he blew out his ACL against Ohio in 2003.  I remember him being carried off the field and flashing the thumbs-up.  I'm very happy things have turned out well for him.


December 26th, 2012 at 12:45 PM ^

Thanks for the link. It is great to see Avant doing so well, and get out of the bad situation he was in as a child and teen. Reading this, and the recent story on Norfleet, reminds me that football is a great way for many young men to better themselves and get out of a bad situation with few good prospects for the future.

Avant really gives credit to God for all that has happened in his life. This must have been something he stressed with the reporter. Avant does a great job of being humble, not self-aggrandizing nor proselytizing, yet being very clear on who he is, what his values are, and where they come from. I thought the Detroit News did a great job of reporting this fairly and honestly. There were no snarky comments about Avant's faith in God, nor was it hidden with code language.

There needs to be more balance in this whole arena. Faith in God is a critical component of the lives of some athletes and coaches. In the professional ranks, Tony Dungy, Kurt Warner and many others have been clear about their faith in God. At Michigan, this has been something clearly part of the picture for Craig Roh, Elliott Mealer, Brock Mealer, Jason Avant, and several others. It is reasonable on this blog to avoid discussion on religion per se (along with politics and a few other topics.) But when faith life is part of the clear picture with a Michigan athlete, it is a reasonable topic of discussion.

Avant's comments on "stewardship" or management of resources are interesting. I'd love to see how much faith life affects the ability of athletes to save money and not go broke shortly after they leave professional sports. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that if you aren't using drugs, buying lots of bling and rides, supporting an entourage of hangers on, or hosting extravagant parties, your money is going to last a lot longer.


December 26th, 2012 at 1:00 PM ^

Seconded. Avant shared what his faith means to him without being preachy or pushy. And he, unlike a lot of athletes, obviously lives out his supposed convictions. Agree or disagree with him, you've got to respect him for that. Seems like if more of us did that, religion wouldn't be such a flamebaitish topic. Avant's a guy who gets it.

Avant's Hands

December 26th, 2012 at 2:20 PM ^

He was a year ahead of me at UM and he quickly became my favorite Wolverine of all time. This is an amazing story and I have so much respect for the guy. It is impossible not to root for him, even if that means being a casual Eagles fan. You couldn't ask for a better respresentative for our university.


December 26th, 2012 at 4:43 PM ^

...Michigan Daily profile of Avant in by Brady McCullough (now of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) detailed Avant's difficult upbrining. 

And this one from Sep 2010 is the source of the quote about Lloyd Carr's recruiting advantage:

When Lloyd Carr came calling, Avant couldn’t resist signing with the national championship-winning coach. “I thought Coach Carr was genuine,” Avant said. “I thought he was tough and I thought he went out of his way to come out to the projects, where most of the coaches were scared to come and visit me.”