VIRGINIA BEACH ( WAVY) – Defensive end Eli Harold remembers 2010 very well. It was his junior year at Ocean Lakes High School. The Dolphins had just lost a 27-17 game to Salem in a playoff game at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex.
As he walked off the field, his cousin came up to him and gave him some unthinkable news; his brother Forrest had passed away from a heart condition. “I felt lost,” said Eli, who played three years at the University of Virginia. “Growing up without a father, I felt like, ‘why me?'”
It wasn’t just a loss for Eli. Sage Harold, who went on to James Madison University, found out after one of his last games playing at Fork Union Military Academy. “Me and my brother were real close,” said Sage.
Eli and Sage are both related, both grew up together, and both played football at Ocean Lakes High School. Not long after they found out about the death of Forrest, Eli found out his mother, Shiela (Sage’s grandmother), passed away from pancreatic cancer.
The number Eli wore at UVA, no. 7, is the same he wears for him mother; the same he has tattooed on his stomach with a pair of angel’s wings on either side. “I do it for them man,” said Eli. “Every time I step out on the field. I got them with me.”
The same goes for Sage. “That’s been my biggest motivation, my biggest drive; my family.”
Now both have the chance to honor their family playing professional football. Eli could be drafted as early as the late first round, while Sage could be drafted in the later rounds. Neither really care when or where, as long as they put on a NFL uniform. “I think I’m going to cry the first time I put on an NFL uniform. It’s a dream,” said Sage.