Looking back at it now, there are some interesting, relevant points that may shed some light on the receiver's current "dark place,' according to adviser David Wells.
My lead to Dez's tale:
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To fans and critics respectively, Dez is either the Pro Bowl missing piece to a championship puzzle or a diva deal-breaker who will generate negative news and sabotage a successful team.
The pertinent bullet points ...
- For what it's worth, Bryant has two children with different mothers, neither of whom he married. Bryant, who won't be 23 until November, said he is committed to providing economic and emotional support to his two sons -- 2-year-old Zayne, who lives in Lufkin, and Dez Jr., born June 25 in Killeen.
- Despite a chaotic childhood, he has never been arrested, prone to violence or associated with drugs.
- "I'm not a diva," Bryant maintained. "I'm too rough to be a diva. Hate that word. There's nothing diva about me."
- Calling Bryant's childhood tumultuous is akin to labeling his grasp of grammar unrefined. His mother, Angela, had Dez at 15 and two more children before age 18. His dad, in his early 40s at the time, didn't much stick around. Saddened by having to feed her kids only ramen noodles and hot dogs, Angela turned to selling drugs for extra income. She eventually also began using -- marijuana, PCP, cocaine -- and in 1997, when Dez was 8, was arrested after selling drugs to an undercover policeman in Lufkin. She was sentenced to four years at the Plane State Jail in Dayton, but served only a year and a half. With Mom locked up, Bryant bounced from living with his aunt to living briefly with his father and, finally, his girlfriend's family.
- Bryant had anger management issues and academic difficulties that landed him in special education classes as a high-school freshman. He pushed himself and amassed three years of math and English credits his final two years at Lufkin.
Sometimes to get a perspective on where a man is, you gotta remember where he's been.