The last time Marcus Lattimore saw the field at Williams-Brice Stadium at South Carolina, he was getting carted off the field. The incredibly gifted running back, who set all kinds of school records, saw his future go completely up in smoke.
A completely shattered knee virtually ended his football career and snuffed a shining star before it could really get glowing.
That is how the narrative could have gone for Lattimore.
Anyone could have seen their childhood dreams and millions of dollars vanish and go into a deep pit. But as Lattimore walked across the stage at South Carolina to receive his diploma, he had already accomplished so much and come from so far.
And if you ask Lattimore, a big reason is his knee injury. It closed one door, but opened up a much more rewarding one.
“I’m thankful for those knee injuries,” Lattimore told Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. “They really saved me and now I feel like I can do anything. Every time I go speak, every time I’m able to stand in front of a crowd, I heal personally.”
Lattimore has taken his stature in the community and rebuilt his image to help others. He started a foundation to help high school students in need pay for surgeries and rehab. He got into coaching — his attempt to join South Carolina’s staff was snuffed because of his charity work with high school athletes.
Lattimore has continued to reach out and reach back into the community that raised him as a South Carolina native.
Not to say he would not have done this if he had won the Heisman Trophy at South Carolina, had a successful NFL career and made good on all that breathtaking talent. But the injury certainly changed that timeline and gave him a different perspective.
“Life is a little bit more enjoyable now because of what I’ve been through,” Lattimore added. “I wouldn’t change a thing that happened — put those knee injuries back in my life. I’m such a better person, overall. I’m wiser and I’m grateful for every single day that I get out of bed and I can walk, and I can run if I want to. The little things, they matter a little bit more than they did in the past.”
Lattimore certainly heard and felt that appreciation when he finally received his diploma from the University of South Carolina.
— Gamecock Athletics (@GamecocksOnline) May 6, 2016
One of South Carolina’s favorite sons has turned tragedy into success and inspiration. There were certainly low moments after the injury, and it was disappointing to see Lattimore have the rotten luck it takes to suffer multiple knee injuries on separate hits.
Everyone, though, can be thankful for what Lattimore has accomplished off the field, even in the face of all that.