South Florida's Pierre-Paul ready for Super Bowl

Haitian-American soaking in the spotlight

By Will Manso - Sports Director

Jason Pierre-Paul didn't play organized football until he was 16 years old.  The son of Haitian born immigrants living in South Florida, the athletic Giants defensive star was focused on playing basketball as a teenager.

Then, one day, he was approached by a coach at Deerfield Beach high school.  Pierre-Paul was finally convinced to give football a shot, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Pierre-Paul used his freakish talent and huge body to develop quickly while playing for the Bucks.  While still a very raw talent, he went on to play two seasons at community colleges.  He did enough to impress the coaches at the University of South Florida. 

Pierre-Paul landed a football scholarship with the Bulls.  After two seasons with USF, he was selected in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL draft by the New York Giants.  A pretty remarkable rise that even Pierre-Paul admits was improbable.

"Playing at USF gave me a chance to show NFL scouts what I can do," Pierre-Paul said during Super Bowl media day.  "They gave me a chance when nobody else did," he added.

Along the way, his parents and siblings were enjoying the ride from the family's home in Deerfield Beach.  They cheered on Pierre-Paul during his amazing 2nd season with the Giants, in which he finished with 16 1/2 sacks and a pro bowl selection.

Now, his family will travel to Indianapolis to watch proudly, as he plays in his first Super Bowl at the age of 23.  This includes his father, Jean, who has never seen his son play football.  That's because Jean Pierre-Paul is blind.  He lost his eyesight when Jason was just 8 months old.  He has never attended a game in which his son has played in, but that will change on Sunday.

It's just another unbelievable twist in the story of a young man from South Florida who never dreamed of being an NFL star.  But, that's exactly what he's become, and if all goes well, he could also soon be a Super Bowl champion. 

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