TAMPA, Fla. -- Johnthan Banks is thankful today. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie cornerback is about to leave the practice field, everything he has lived since the draft proof that he has made it.
These are the slow days of training camp, a time of instruction and attrition. But for Banks, the Bucs' second-round pick from Mississippi State, living these sessions is more than a sign of how far he has come.
They are a reminder of the woman who lifted him along the way.
"Growing up seeing my grandmother struggle the way we did, we didn't have much," he says of his paternal grandmother, Maggie Banks. "It just motivated me to go out here, work hard and get to where I am now. We did some things to change some things."
Banks' voice picks up when he speaks about Maggie, his legal guardian. Men throughout the NFL play for a variety of reasons, some public, others private. Inspiration comes in many forms: family, security, a search for stability, a quest fo...