"It was something I feel nobody should have to go through."
That is how the astonishing childhood story of Jehuu Caulcrick begins. While I was searching for information on the Jets’ 2008 free agent class, I came across an unbelievable video clip of Caulcrick, a Michigan State product who is here this weekend practicing with the Green & White.
The 6’0”, 254-pound Caulcrick, a powerful runner who led the Big Ten in scoring and set an MSU record with 21 rushing TDs in 2007, will attempt to impress the coaching staff and make a play for the fourth running back position. But the fact that he has even made it to Hempstead borders on the miraculous.
Months before the draft, Caulcrick was interviewed by Jay Crawford on ESPN’s morning TV show “First Take.” Here are some excerpts of his quotes in that interview:
War Breaks Out
“I was born and raised in West Africa, a country called Liberia. I led a normal childhood up until I was 7 or 8 and then a civil war broke out. At that time we found ourselves fleeing for our lives, and we literally went from one refugee camp to the next refugee camp. We literally were stepping over dead bodies en route to those camps. I had a strong faith in God and with my grandmother and my mom and all those people alongside — we had to persevere through that and hope for the best.”
Hell on Earth
“The average day was awful. You sleep about two hours a night, and then you have to get up and run to another refugee camp. You go to a checkpoint where I literally saw pregnant women get cut up in front of me and babies falling out and people get killed right in front of me.
"We had these backpacks on our backs that had sleeping bags in them so we could sleep when we got to the next refugee camp. When we got to the refugee camp, we’d open up our backpacks to take the sleeping bags out and you’d see bullets in the backpack. Good thing we had the backpacks on or they would have killed us.”
“One of the worst things that happened to me was through [the war] because my father was involved in politics. He had to separate from us in order to protect us and he was assassinated in that time period when he was not with us. The hardest part of that time period was how we found about it. Nobody came and told us. We had to read about it in the newspaper and that was something that was real shocking to me and upsetting.”
A Way Out
Jehuu’s mother, Bonita, "came to America in order to establish citizenship so she could come back and get my sister and me out of there. But she lost all connections with us in America because the war broke out and we didn’t have any communications through that.
"One day she just decided to pick up and come to Africa and find us. It was basically like shooting a dart in the dark because she didn’t know where we were. She would go to a house and they’d tell her, ‘Oh you just missed them. They were here, but they’ve gone to this place,’ and it would be the same thing over and over.
"It took her two, three months to finally get in contact with us and find us. When she did, it was a very good reunion. I still remember my grandfather when he first saw her — he couldn’t believe it was her. He just kept repeating her name, ‘Bonita, Bonita.’ She was like, ‘Yes, Dad, it’s me,’ hoping that he wouldn’t have a heart attack just from seeing her. It was a very happy time, her coming back, but that led to another journey with us coming to America.”
Visas to a New Life
“She took us to the embassy to get visas for us to come to the country. They didn’t believe she was our mother, so she kept fighting with them and fighting with them. Finally she said, ‘If you don’t believe I’m the mother, you can have them.’ So she kind of pretended like she was leaving and started walking out. This guy was like, ‘No, ma’am, wait, wait, wait!’ She finally came back and that’s how we were granted visas to America.”
“It affected me greatly. It’s something I definitely keep in the back of my head, and I want to keep it in the back of my head because I feel it makes me a stronger person.”
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