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Athlete Gone Bad, Turns Good

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Samantha Burtch, Writer

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Ohio State’s first freshman running back, Maurice Clarett, had a chance at huge success in the National Football League after an amazing career at Ohio State University where he led his team to a championship in 2002. Not only was he a freshman phenom at Ohio State and one of the first players to seriously challenge the NFL’s draft eligibility rules; he was one of the most compelling figures in America’s favorite sport. But soon after these accomplishments, instead of scoring touchdowns and winning championships, he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison, with the possibility to apply for early release after three and a half years.

On January 1, 2006, he was accused of robbing two people at gunpoint in an alley behind a Columbus bar, and was wanted by police on two counts of aggravated robbery. On August 9 he was arrested after a highway chase that police say started when he refused to pull over after a traffic violation. Police say they used pepper spray on him, and found three handguns and an AK-47 assault rifle inside the vehicle he was driving. Then on September 18, he agreed to plead guilty to aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon. The deal would send him to prison for at least 3½ years and end two criminal cases against him.

In December 2014, Clarett spoke at a correctional facility in Marion, Ohio. There, the former Ohio State star running back sparked a relationship with Gary Mohr, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, talking over prison reform discourse. On Wednesday at the Riffe Center in downtown Columbus, Clarett was one of the four speakers along with Mohr. He had come there to be a part of the U.S. Justice Action Network’s discussion on Ohio’s options to improve public safety and overall effectiveness of its justice system.

After years in jail, and years of thinking, Clarett wanted to make sure that others don’t waste the talent that he once did, and that people are safer and make better choices to not wind up in the situation he was in.

Many misfortunes and bad decisions may have ruined his athletic career, but he didn’t let that change the person he is deep down. Today he is enjoying time spent with his 11-year-old daughter and his girlfriend, Ashley Evans.

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Athlete Gone Bad, Turns Good