By Jacie Scott | LSU Student
Following a family meal in his childhood home in Prairieville, La.,, an 11-year-old Eric Reid Jr. challenged his father to a race.
Sounds like easy pickings, except for the fact that Eric Reid Sr. was a three-time All-American hurdler at LSU, winning the NCAA championship in 1987.
The younger Reid felt certain he could beat his father, considering the elder Reid had been long removed from his hurdling days. Reid Sr. accepted the challenge.
"He burned me, he never lets me live it down, he still references it to this day," said the father. Later he challenged his son.
"He told me 'you should want your name to mean something," said the younger Reid, currently a standout on the LSU football team. "When someone mentions your name, you should want positive things associated with it.'"
Reid has met his father's challenge so far. The LSU sophomore safety breaks the "dumb jock" stereotype, hitting his books just as hard as the opponents' wide receivers. His successes on the field have placed him in the position to be a strong first-round pick in the NFL draft in 2013.
In November 2011, Reid earned Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Week, Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week and Capital One Academic All-District honors all in the same week.
"My parents told me when I was growing up that when you make the decision to play sports, people will stereotype you off the bat without knowing you," said Reid. "It motivates me to prove that nothing is given to me. I work for what I have and just because you're an athlete doesn't mean you're a dumb jock."
Reid's dedication to his work stems from being raised by a mother who's made sacrifices to be a traveling nurse and a father who worked hard when the odds were against him. In high school, Reid Sr. had torn his ACL and lost all athletic scholarships to universities, but LSU took a chance.
Reid's hard work earned him a spot in the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame. This was especially helpful for the younger Reid when he endured three major surgeries from his freshman season to his junior year. His college career had become unclear.
"I was nervous. I didn't know if anyone would take a chance on a guy who was hurt all the time. It was easy to trust and believe in my dad when he gave encouragement because he had been through it. Fortunately, LSU gave me a chance."
High school also brought Reid into unfamiliar territory: fatherhood. At 17, the honor roll senior and LSU commit learned that he had fathered a daughter. The thought was scary still being a kid himself. He was especially concerned with how his parents would react. But Reid met the situation as he had every other aspect of his life.
He committed to it.
"In high school, I had that 'me me me' mindset and everything I did was focused on my goals. But when you have a child everything changes. The decisions you make not only affect you. You don't come first anymore, and you have to make sacrifices."
Reid tacked on a job to his school and football workload to help support his daughter. He managed to graduate sixth in his class with a scholarship to LSU.
Today, his two-year-old daughter LeiLani serves as his motivation to balance school, football and fatherhood. He currently maintains a 3.3 GPA in business marketing and serves as a leader on the football team. He strives to lead by example and serve as the type of leader younger athletes could look up to.
"I hope to be a good father, good husband, hopefully have a long, successful NFL career, and raise my daughter in the right way. My dad has definitely been my role model for this."
He is in a position to meet his father's challenge.