Dec. 19, 2012
By Jeremy Hawkes, SDA Media Relations
**This is the second part of a two-part feature story, The Man Behind the Facemask, on ASU senior cornerback Deveron Carr. While part one discussed Carr's influence as an athlete and as a father, part concludes the story with a look into Carr's career as a student and as a member of the community.
Sometimes it is the smallest things in life that tend to have the most lasting effects on people. The little things that no one tends to think twice about can inevitably spark a literal life-altering change for the greater good.
For Deveron Carr, that life-altering little moment started with a broken glass.
Carr was living in South Phoenix and attending Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen, Ariz. In two games as a junior, he had already amassed 268 rushing yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns and looked primed for a breakout year.
While watching a movie with his brother one night, Carr went to return a glass to the kitchen and dropped it. He attempted to catch it before it hit the ground and for all his speed, he wasn't quite quick enough. The glass shattered and tore apart his right hand in the process.
The result? Lacerations across five nerves, three tendons and an artery, and a swift halt to Carr's junior season.
The freak accident happened to Carr's dominant hand and as a result, he struggled to write after the surgery. Unable to write, Carr transferred to an alternative high school, Phoenix Union Cyber High School, to complete coursework. Having gotten out of South Phoenix, Carr would eventually transfer to Chaparral to continue his education once his hand was healed.
"Hurting my hand was kind of a blessing in disguise," Carr said. "If I were to never cut my hand, then a lot of the things that are in place right now wouldn't be happening."
Carr had always planned on going to college, but wasn't sure if it was something that would happen through football. He was always a pretty good student and a solid athlete, but the culture and recognition at a school like Cesar Chavez was never really there.
Once he enrolled at Chaparral, however, it was a whole new ball game.
"I started working out and training and going to personal trainers, and that's how that process started," Carr said. "I figured I still had it, and I had a great buzz and they were telling me that I could play college ball."
At the time, Carr thought he'd just go to college and get a job and live life like an average individual.
Carr had a standout year at Chaparral and the pieces were in place for him to continue his playing career. Then the scholarship offer came from Arizona State and Carr's dreams of achieving a university education came to fruition.
Carr tried to underplay the significance of the moment, noting that he didn't want to get his hopes up until he was actually there - he had to take nine classes as a senior at Chaparral just to be able to enroll at ASU. But for the rest of his family, it was an emotional moment as Carr would become the first person in his immediate family to ever get a shot to earn an education from a Division I university.
And not only did Carr earn an education, but he became the first in his family to graduate from college as well - doing so in four years.
"(My family), they were almost in tears. They couldn't believe it," Carr said. "My cousins ask me how I feel. You know, `How does it feel to graduate from college?' and my friends back from the `hood', as I call it, in South Phoenix - they'd ask me the same thing."
Carr feels like people value the fact that he has graduated from college and almost set him on a pedestal, per se, but he will be the first to tell you that he is the same guy that everyone grew up with and doesn't want to be treated any differently than anyone.
But anyone who saw him at the annual student-athlete graduation luncheon last year would know that his graduation meant just as much to him as it meant to those around him. A teary-eyed Carr shunned the minute-long time frame given to the graduates to thank those closest to them, instead unleashing a passionate five-minute speech on the importance of graduating and encouraging his peers to embrace the moment.
"Those were kind of tears of joy, for me to be able to stand up there and say `I did it."' Carr remembers. "I just remembered all my family who had opportunities and it just didn't fall through for them or my friends who didn't make it, who had passed away that had believed in me and the injuries that I went through.
"I felt like I had a lot of things to overcome to get to where I am and all that stuff came to my mind at that moment and I felt like I may as well just tell my story."
Carr earned his Bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on family and justice studies. Unlike many student-athletes that have used a redshirt year, Carr earned his degree in four years and has used his final year of eligibility to focus on graduate course work.
"I'm just opening my eyes to some different things right now," Carr said. "I feel like the more tools you have in your life later on, the better off you will be. Period."
Arizona State University Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development Jean Boyd is one of the people charged with helping the young men and women that come through the program to build the life skills necessary to be successful and he notes that Carr was one man that he never struggled with.
"He's one of the few student-athletes out there that, on his own, went out of his way to make an appointment to talk about the future where, usually, we are the ones trying to track the kids down," Boyd said. "He's very unique in that a lot of high-achieving athletes can be selfish but from day one, Deveron was the compete opposite."
And as Carr looks back on his time as a student and the trials he had to face, from raising a daughter to coming from a tough inner-city background to maintaining a high performance level on the football team - he knows there were times that he could have cracked. But he refrained.
"I stood tall and accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish, that my family wanted to accomplish...that the world wanted me to accomplish," he said. "There might be people that try and shun you from your dreams, but if you believe in what you are doing and you believe in yourself, then you can achieve anything in life."
Going to college, competing on the football team and raising a daughter would be more than enough for your average individual. But if there's something to be said about Carr, it's that he is far from average.
In addition to all of his other responsibilities, Deveron might be the most proactive member in the athletic department when it comes to volunteering and community service activities. He always has it in his mind to give back to others the support that has been given to him through the years.
"From the moment I met Deveron, I could tell he had a heart to serve and that he cared about people a great deal," Boyd said. "We had many conversations about his desire to be successful in life so that he, in turn, could help others."
Any conversation one has with Deveron about his past will have him tell you that he wouldn't be where he is today without the support of his family. Carr grew up in an inner-city environment but had parents that kept him grounded and noted that, being the youngest in the family, he learned a lot from his older siblings' mistakes.
Looking back on his childhood, Deveron remembers that the toughest thing growing up was staying away from that trouble that the inner-city environments can bring.
"Living in South Phoenix, the toughest thing is staying on a positive note and not falling in line with everyone else," he said. "I had to stay away from trouble, away from violence and away from gangs. That was my biggest challenge, just staying away from those rough areas in day-to-day life."
The reason Carr is so motivated to be successful in life and the reason he attributes to his success in life thus far comes from the support of his family.
"There's a lot of people in this world that gave up hope because they didn't have the support that I had," Carr said. "They made me believe in myself and they gave me the hope and the motivation to continue going forward and working hard."
And as such, Carr is always the first to volunteer for opportunities in the community in an effort to give back and to provide the support that others might not have, and does so without thinking twice on it, even with his other commitments.
"I feel like there's plenty of people out there who need help and you can't put a barrier on it," Carr said. "I'd do it any given day, even if I had to stay up for 24 hours to help someone out, I'd do it. That's in my heart."
Boyd talked about how Carr did an internship with the Great Phoenix Urban League prior to this season, working with underprivileged communities to help empower others. This comes in addition to all the times he goes to schools to chat with young kids, often visiting his old high school to talk with the youth there as well.
"He's just wired in a way that he's going to make a difference in this world," Boyd said. "There are individuals you come across in different walks of life that you spend just five minutes with and you know it's not about them, but about those around them, and he's one of those."
Carr likes to go and talk about character to the youth in the Phoenix area and all the qualities necessary to make it to college. He likes to think that the fact that he grew up on the same streets as those boys and girls helps them to relate to him and the challenges he has faced, and may persuade them to take his advice.
"I'm in the classroom, I'm at the parks, I'm giving them hugs," Carr said. "They know that I'm there, that I'm living proof that I'm still around in South Phoenix and you can get in touch with me."
Unsurprisingly, for those who have spent just five minutes with Carr, he plans to go on to a career in motivational speaking in charity work if things don't work out with professional football.
"I believe that one day, I can change somebody's life," he said. "Whatever I do, it will fall in line with social work and helping out kids in the inner-city."
Carr's ambition to help others is a testament to his selfless nature and the fact that he is grateful for everything that has been given to him in his life.
"I'm just proud to be here and blessed to be able to do what I'm doing every day," he said. "I'm blessed to be able to meet and talk to people, and to be able to walk and run and jump.
"I don't take anything for granted because as quick as you can do it, you can walk out the door and not be able to do it anymore."