Philadelphia Eagles News

Adversity Paved Maclin's Road To NFL

New wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has a very special picture somewhere in his room back in Missouri.

It's a family photo, but not the kind people usually see at Sears or JC Penney.

In it are Maclin's two brothers, Andre and Roshon, and his mother Cleo Maclin King.

But it also includes the Parres family, which adopted Maclin four years ago.

Like most photos, it's one of a thousand words, most of which add up to adversity.

"I feel like I've gone through a lot of stuff in my life, throughout my childhood, growing up," Maclin said. "I feel like there's not much that can really faze me. That's why I feel like I'm fine with anything that's thrown out there against me. Unfortunately it did happen, but fortunately I'm here in the great city of Philadelphia with a team who contends every year and that's what I want to be a part of."

The fact that Maclin and Parres were standing in the rotunda at the NovaCare Complex on Sunday afternoon is a testament to Maclin's resiliency.

"Jeremy's never known his father," said Jeffrey Parres, Maclin's adopted father. "His mom has had some difficulties in life off and on, so really from the beginning, Jeremy would spend a lot of time with us. He would spend weekends, holidays, and then within a year or two he was spending summers, pretty much any free time he had (with us), so we got to know him quite well."

As a child, Maclin was living with his mother in the poverty-stricken Meacham Park neighborhood outside of St. Louis when he began playing youth football. It was there he met Jeffrey, who was the coach. There were times after practice that Parres would drive Maclin home only to find that he'd been locked out. Parres watched as Maclin squirmed his way through a screen and into the dark house.

"Little-league football weeknights, we would take Jeremy home after practice," Parres said. "There were times that there was no one at home and the doors would be locked.

"Those were the tough times."

Maclin King lost one of her two jobs and, as the frustration of raising three boys on her own mounted, things began to unravel in the household. After Jeremy's older siblings moved out, problems began to surface.

"That's when things got difficult for Jeremy," Parres said. "There were a couple times when his older brother Andre would call and say 'Things are getting bad, things are rough at the house. Can you stay with him through the course of the week?'"

By Maclin's sophomore year in high school, he was staying full time at the Parres' house.

By then he was firmly entrenched as a member of the family.

"He's a son now," Parres said. "We treat him like our other two boys. They're like brothers to each other. They fight, bicker and argue. But he really, truly is a son to us."

When it came time to make the decision on whether or not to stay in school or enter the NFL draft, Parres found himself giving the kind of advice he'd never thought he give.

"I never thought I'd tell one of my kids to leave college, but when he got the projection in December from the NFL that he would be a likely first-rounder, that's a pretty simple decision to make, especially when you factor in the injury factor, which we lived through" Parres said. "So we were very comfortable and encouraged him to go."

On draft day, Maclin King joined her son and his surrogate family when the Eagles called to tell Maclin he was coming to Philadelphia.

"We've always had a good relationship (with Maclin's mother and brothers)," Parres said. "They argue like moms and sons do, but for the most part, they're close."

It's hard not to think that all of Maclin's adversity has helped make him into the person he is today.

"He's very mature," Parres said. "I think it helped build some character."

That's helped him overcome some injury issues as well. While preparing for his freshman season at Missouri, Maclin blew out his knee. The physicians feared that Maclin would never play football again, but they didn't dare tell him that. After he found out, though, it gave him a new perspective on life.

"It was very humbling," Maclin said. "It was something that I never want to experience again. They never told me this, but apparently I was never supposed to play football again. Knowing that now and knowing that I was that close to damaging a nerve in my foot and have my foot drop is terrifying. So I just learned to live life day by day and don't take anything for granted. The thing you worked for all of your life can get taken away from you the next day."

Either way, it took all the people in that picture to get Macklin to where he is today.

"There are a lot of people in my life who have influenced me to get to this point," Maclin said. "Obviously, the family I live with; they definitely played a big part of why I'm here. I learned a lot of things from my real family, too."

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