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Jim Thorpe Award: LSU's Patrick Peterson makes the grade

BY JAKE TROTTER, Staff Writer, Modified: February 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm •  Published: February 7, 2011

The elder Peterson kept his word, which was unpopular with everyone, from his son to fans of the team.

“He always told me grades come first if I was going to be the type of athlete I wanted to be,” Peterson said. “He sat me out for that whole season. It was miserable. He made me come to every practice, made me come to every game and explain to people in the stands why I wasn't playing.

“That put things into perspective.”

At nights, Peterson cried his eyes out. It wasn't easy on the family, either.

“The neighborhood, the fans, they booed me,” Peterson Sr. said. “They would call me out every game."

But ultimately, the Petersons overcame it.

Humiliated and humbled, Peterson resolved he would never make such a mistake again. He brought his grades up and was back on the field as a junior.

“It was wonderful to play again,” he said. “It was an honor to get back on the field and play the game I love.”

Instantly, he became a star and eventually signed with LSU as the No. 1 cornerback in the country.

In Baton Rouge, Peterson lived up to the high expectations, headlining one of the best defenses in the country last season. He was a finalist for the Lott Award for his work off the field, too.

“That really made him the man he is today,” Peterson Sr. said. “It was a lesson he had to learn. But he became a better student, a better man, a stronger man.

“He's a wonderful kid now, and I'm proud of him.”

Tramel: Peterson impressive