This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Previous character scouting reports: WR Julio Jones, DT Nick Fairley.
When people talk about Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, the conversations, naturally, almost solely focus on his football abilities. It makes sense. Dareus is an elite NFL prospect - a huge man with the power, strength and athletic abilities to be a force in professional football.
Rarely is Dareus' past brought up - mostly because Dareus is widely regarded as a high-character guy. But his backstory is a rather remarkable one, and shows just how much he's had to overcome to get to this point in his life.
Dareus' father died when he was just a boy. His mother, who did later remarry, was left to attempt to raise Marcell and his six siblings (five brothers, one sister) alone. She developed health problems, nearly died from congestive heart failure, and is now confined to a wheelchair.
With his mother fallen ill, Dareus moved in with an assistant high school football coach of his, Scott Livingston. Livingston was killed in an automobile accident. From that point forward, Dareus entered the care of Lester Reasor, a retired junior ROTC director at Dareus' high school. Reasor would later become the legal guardian for Dareus and his youngest siblings.
Dareus' mother is still in his life, though she was unable to care for him in a younger age. Soon, Dareus will be able to take care of her.
Marcell wasn't the only Dareus brother that signed on to play football at Alabama. His brother, Demerius, signed as well, but did not qualify academically. He has bounced between two junior colleges trying to get his grades up, but has not yet accomplished the task. Dareus, for the record, has struggled in that sense, too, but has reportedly worked diligently to keep himself eligible.
Dareus was suspended for the first two games of the 2010 season for accepting illegal benefits from an agent. It was a mistake; it can't be condoned. But it's hard to get too riled up about it knowing what Dareus comes from.