New York -- a city where dreams rise and fall amongst the corridors of cement and steel. It was here at the 2011 NFL Draft when this town did its best to crush the spirit of Richard Sherman.
“A tough day,” recalls Kevin Sherman, Richard’s father.
Sherman wasn’t invited to the event. He was the 154th pick, fifth round. It was a singular and stinging disappointment for the Sherman family.
“He carries a lot of chips with him and they just sit on his shoulder and it drives him and drives him,” said Kevin.
Sherman's chips are not carried in anger. They've been created over a lifetime.
“The chip came when he was three and a half years old,” explained Richard’s mom, Beverly.
Beverly said her son was denied a spot on the T-ball team.
“When the lady in the pink hat, Ms. Dorothy Dawson, told him he was not old enough to play, that's where the chip began. My son was livid,” explained Beverly.
In a city known for drugs, Richard's parents are a different kind of pusher. Beverly is a social worker. Kevin is in his 26th year as a garbage truck driver for the City of Los Angeles. The children are their only priority.
“I get off at one o'clock. I'm here until practice is over at seven o’clock at night. I was here every day. I didn't miss a day. It was like I practiced every day,” said Kevin.
Richard has an older brother named Branton who was a star receiver at Montana State. His sister Krystina is the youngest. But mom runs the show.
“Horseplay all the time and I'm all the time telling them, okay. Get hurt, you are going to play with your butt broke, your neck broke, whatever! You still are going to go out there and play,” said Beverly.
And play they did, but everything is fun and games until you poke at Richard's pride.
“I found out what motivated him. I told him and his father told him that he'd never be as good as his brother,” explained Keith Donerson, Dominguez High School Football Coach.
Donerson remembers a skinny Sherman trying to squeeze his way onto the team.
“From that moment on, every time I show up to a freshman game he's scoring a touchdown, catching a pass running a reverse for a touchdown. That motivated him,” explained Donerson.
When Richard returns home, he motivates his sister Krystina, who's opening a brand new barbershop in nearby Bellflower.
“Making sure I'm doing it full throttle and not just halving it,” said Krystina.
But outside that barbershop not everyone else is as much of a fan. The people of Compton love Richard, but this is definitely 49er nation. So when a San Francisco wide receiver talks trash, Sherman will win that battle too.
“I will defend my son. I will take this to my grave. All he did was get something off his chest that was brewing and brewing,” explained Beverly.
Beverly blames Richard’s recent conflict all on 49er wide receiver Michael Crabtree after he pushed her son.
“My momma used to say, don't push my ugly button. He pushed my son's ugly button. Two minutes later there's a mike in his face,” explained Beverly.
Much like the way he plays corner, Sherman never backed off his statement, but he did provide context.
“I was on the football field you know, showing passion. Maybe it was misdirected, maybe things may have been immature, you know, things could have been worded better, but this was on the football field,” said Richard.
As the sports world continues to react, the Sherman family moves forward. Now Richard, always challenged, is back and is cashing in a lifetime's worth of chips.
For Mom, Dad and Krystina. For Coach D. For the believers and the doubters. For the 12th Man. For Compton. For New York.