My path to the pros

Bills safety Jairus Byrd recalls the days before he got paid to play.

Originally Published: July 1, 2013
By LaRue Cook | ESPN The Magazine

The beginning

At 7 or 8, I started playing rec-league basketball in San Diego. That was the first sport my parents put me in, and I played through my senior year of high school. My dad, Gill Byrd, was a cornerback for the Chargers, and he didn't like how kids were starting to play football so young. He told my brother [Gill Jr., who went on to play for New Mexico State] and I that we had to wait until we were 13. But we kept begging and got to start at 11.

The middle ...

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