Jenni Carlson

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OSU recruit Herschel Sims more than 5-star

by Jenni Carlson Published: November 2, 2010

Herschel Sims is a jewel in Oklahoma State’s 2011 recruiting class.

But more importantly, the Abilene, Texas, tailback is a survivor.

He was the victim of child abuse when he was only 6 or 7 years old. He recently talked to KTAB, the CBS affiliate in Abilene, about the abuse that he endured along with his younger brother and sister. His step-father and mother were eventually arrested and sent to prison, him for the abuse and her for not reporting it.

“It was a rough, rough time,” Sims told the TV station. “I pretty much remember like it was yesterday.”

In this undated photo, Abilene High School running back Herschel Sims poses for a portrait in Abilene, Texas. (AP Photo/Abilene Reporter-News, Thomas Metthe) ORG XMIT: TXABI101
In this undated photo, Abilene High School running back Herschel Sims poses for a portrait in Abilene, Texas. (AP Photo/Abilene Reporter-News, Thomas Metthe) ORG XMIT: TXABI101

The abuse began one night after his mom and step-dad returned from a movie. His step-dad became angry at the children, tied their feet to the bunk beds, tied their hands to a door knob and started whooping up on them.

“He used an extension cord and his fist,” Sims said. “It just went on for days and days.”

A teacher eventually noticed that Sims’ younger brother was having trouble sitting down in class. That led the teacher to report the abuse and the authorities to arrest Sims’ mom and step-dad.

She was sentenced to eight years in prison, he to 25 years to life.

“To this day, my brother still has real bad scars on his back,” Sims said. “My scars went away.”

But do scars ever really fade? How can a child, a boy still young and innocent and vulnerable and years away from becoming the 5-foot-9, 190-pound, five-star powerhouse that Sims has become, endure such violence and not be forever hurt?

Listen to Sims talk, though, and you sense that he has forgiven. He is calm. He is measured. He seems at peace.

“I don’t hold anything against her,” Sims said of his mom, who was released from prison in August. “To be honest, I really don’t have hate for my step-dad. I actually want to meet him and confront him and meet him and ask him why.

“I want to go as soon as possible. As soon as my mom can get in touch with him and he can put me on his visiting list (at the prison), I’ll go up there.”

Sims is sure to excite Cowboy fans for years to come, but really, he is someone who we can all cheer. This is a young man who has fought. This is a young man who has endured. This is a young man who has experienced the worst in people but refused to let it get the best of him.

Regardless of your Bedlam affiliation, you can root for Herschel Sims.

“I see all the negative things that my family has been through,” said Sims, who also said during the television interview that almost all of his aunts and uncles have been incarcerated at some point. “I know the path that they took, and that’s something that I don’t want to take.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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