Andy Staples | Jan. 2, 2013 | Sports Illustrated
BETHLEHEM, Ga. -- The weightlifting session began at 8:30 sharp on that muggy May morning in 2007. Any student who intended to play for Monroe Area High's football team had to show up and lift. No exceptions. Stephon Tuitt's mother had forbidden her oldest son from attending. Tamara Bartlett, a Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy, had to work a shift. She couldn't give her rising freshman son a ride. Besides, she wanted Tuitt to spend his freshman year adjusting to high school coursework before he played any team sports. Also, Bartlett needed Tuitt at home to help take care of his younger brothers.
She wanted her son to attend a school where he could obtain a degree that would immediately impress future employers. The two schools Tuitt considered most heavily -- Notre Dame and Georgia Tech -- fit that description. "My focus was not a school that only focuses on football," Bartlett said. "I wanted him to go to a well-rounded school."
Bartlett doesn't care if Tuitt makes it to the NFL. She never intended to raise a football player. She always intended to raise a college graduate. "I didn't want him to get off track from the real picture," Bartlett said. "The real picture is graduation....Strive to be better."