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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Storm changes the world for rookie

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    08/17/2004
    MACOMB, Ill. - More than a thousand miles away, technology brought Anthony Hargrove close to his family during Hurricane Charley. It is an experience he will never forget.

    The Rams' rookie defensive end was talking on a cell phone Friday with one of his four brothers, Shermel, when Hurricane Charley hit the Hargrove home in Punta Gorda, Fla.

    "Shermel was giving me a play-by-play, with my mom screaming in the background," Hargrove said Tuesday. "Hearing them screaming, hearing my family in the background going hysterical, it was crazy."

    During the conversation, part of the roof was blown off. Suddenly, Hargrove lost connection with his brother. "I was trying to call him all day and get back with him," Hargrove said.

    If that weren't enough, Hargrove couldn't reach his girlfriend and their 15-month old son, Tre, who live nearby.

    "I knew I had to get down there and help them," he said.

    While all this was going on, Hargrove was in the process of returning to Macomb following the Rams' preseason game with Chicago the night before. When Hargrove informed Rams officials of his problem, he was told to go home and tend to his family. He turned right around and headed back to St. Louis from Macomb, taking the first flight out Saturday morning.

    Once in Florida, Hargrove finally made contact with one of his brothers, but still couldn't reach his parents. He went to his house, where he found his parents sorting through the debris.

    Hargrove had seen reports of hurricane damage before on television. "But up close and personal, no," he said. "That's something I hope nobody ever goes through, because now everybody has to start over. The thing that really hit me hard was that we lost our house.

    "So you think, 'Well, maybe I can go down to my friend's house and stay with him for the weekend.' But then you realize they don't have a house, either. It was crazy because you were wondering where your next meal was coming from. There was no water. There was no gas. Or cars. I mean, there was nothing. It was just completely wiped out."

    As he drove down the highway in his hometown, Hargrove saw rescue workers pulling bodies out of debris, trees snapped like pencils, power lines down, and yards of homes that looked like junkyards. When he finally made it home, his heart sank. The family home was in ruins.

    "Yeah, everybody has a sunroof in their room now," Hargrove said. "The roof is gone. There's stuff sticking out everywhere..

    "It's the place I've been living at for half my life, and now to see it gone like that is just. ... There's so many things that we did there. So many experiences."

    By 7 p.m. Saturday, Hargrove had accounted for his family, his girlfriend and his son. He put them up for the night in a hotel, and before he left Punta Gorda, had found some of them an apartment. "Some of them" because Hargrove took all four of his brothers back to St. Louis with him.

    Hargrove's father and one of his brothers find themselves out of a job. They worked at Hargrove's high school, Port Charlotte High, which was wiped out by Charley.

    "They're not sure when they'll be able to start school back there again," Hargrove said. "That's why I've got my younger brothers with me back in St. Louis. And my two other brothers, they're going to work in St. Louis."

    At the age of 21, Hargrove suddenly finds himself the main provider for his family.

    "Everybody's kind of looking at me like, 'Hey, if you can help us, help us out here a little bit,' " Hargrove said. "It's just kind of funny, that last year I was out doing nothing, and now I have an NFL contract."

    Hargrove was academically ineligible for football last fall at Georgia Tech, and spent part of his time working on the jetway "pushing planes" at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

    "My family and I, we were just thinking that if I was still out there on the jetway or something, what would have been the difference in the situation now?" Hargrove said. "Would I be able to help my parents find a place to stay? Would they have been able to eat?"

    Now, the answer to those questions is yes - thanks to the three-year, $1.374 million contract Hargrove signed with the Rams, a deal that included a $442,000 signing bonus.

    "I'm just thankful to have this opportunity to help them out," Hargrove said.

    It was tough to return to Macomb from Punta Gorda. But Hargrove was back on the practice field Tuesday, still seeing images of the wreckage, and the faces of friends, family and strangers.

    "It's still sitting in the back of my mind," Hargrove said. "I'm trying to push it back a little bit more. But I don't want to forget about it, because I want to let that be what drives me to make it."


  2. #2
    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: Storm changes the world for rookie

    Mother nature is quite powerful. Hurricanes do have a big impact here on the East Coast. I feel for the Hargrove family. At least they didn't suffer any loss of life. The Ram signing bonus is god send for them.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Storm changes the world for rookie

    I bet some people just wish they had have died rather than face the prospect of picking up the pieces and having media types ask them "how do you feel?"

    Best of luck to all the distribution lines channeling provisions to the needy and to the authorities in cracking the heads of exploiters and profiteers.

  4. #4
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    Re: Storm changes the world for rookie

    Well that's the media of today adarian. They will do anything to get a story. :disappoin
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