Print and Go Back ESPN.com: College Football [Print without images]

Friday, August 17, 2007
Clemson's McElrathbey, guardian of 12-year-old brother, will miss season

Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson Tigers running back Ray Ray McElrathbey, who earned headlines after taking custody of his 12-year-old brother last year, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

McElrathbey was injured during practice Thursday, and spokesman Tim Bourret confirmed Friday that he tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

"At first I was upset," McElrathbey said. "But I am past that now. Sometimes God tests you in different ways and it makes you stronger in the end."

The injury comes a month after McElrathbey had arthroscopic knee surgery, limiting his offseason workouts.

In a scrimmage last weekend, McElrathbey was second on the team with six rushes for 25 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run.

"I really hate this for Ray Ray," said coach Tommy Bowden. "He was doing very well at running back. He had a good spring and had been doing well in the preseason."

The sophomore had decided to bring his brother, Fahmarr, to live with him because of their mother's continuing cocaine addiction. McElrathbey won the FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

McElrathbey started last fall as a defensive back. He played on special teams and made six tackles in 13 games. He was shifted to running back at the end of last season.

In March, he was suspended for at least four practices because of academic concerns.

The McElrathbey brothers had been living off Ray Ray's Pell grant, a monthly stipend for living off campus and whatever odd jobs Ray Ray could pick up between his course work and football obligations.

After Ray Ray gained custody of Fahmarr last year, Clemson applied for -- and the NCAA approved -- a waiver of the governing body's extra benefits rule. That allowed Clemson's coaches, staffers and their family members to help the McElrathbeys with rides to and from Fahmarr's middle school.

The NCAA also agreed that Clemson could set up a trust fund for the McElrathbeys, where money donated by well-wishers could be withdrawn to help Ray Ray raise Fahmarr.