Dark past fuels “Blindside’s” NFL hopes

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Lakendrick Ross has only played one season of high school football; his senior year at I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth. Just that one season with the Greyhounds was enough to catch the eye of a number of Division I college recruiters.

Offers from the University of Alabama, the University of Virginia, and Virginia Tech flew in, but Ross was declared academically ineligible and instead ended up at Virginia University of Lnynchburg. In that one season, Ross was named the conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-5, 360 pound defensive end has conquered far more than opposing lineman.

Ross, as recently as a few months ago, lived out of his car. He’s lived in 10 different group homes from Pennsylvania down to Georgia, and lost his mother when he was just 12 years old.

“You experience something like that, and you just wonder to the higher being, you wonder, ‘Why did you take mine?,” said Ross, “‘The one person I love the most, why did you take mine?’

“You wonder, ‘why me?'”

Though he never found an answer, he finally found a support system in Portsmouth. Norcom’s librarian, Martha Langdon, and her husband Steve have helped Ross with certain needs while he played for the Greyhounds.

Ross says they’re two of the most important people he’s had in his life since moving to Portsmouth. “Since I’ve been up here, they’ve done whatever they can to help me. They’re behind me 100 percent, and I love that,” said Ross.

He also found a foster family in Chesapeake.

“When he first started talking, I just saw this gentle giant. He was just a big kid; just a teddy bear,” said Ernestine Woods, Ross’s foster mother.

After everything Ross has endured, he now has a chance to play in the NFL. He’s worked out for scouts from 13 NFL teams, and believes he can make it.

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be hard. If it was easy, there’d be a lot more people in the NFL,” he said.

It’s only fitting Ross’s nickname is “Blindside.”

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