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EDITOR'S NOTE: The following story on Lorenzo Mauldin first appeared on WDRB.com on Sept. 10, 2012. It is republished here due to recent news events.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A football player from a broken family has found a new home -- right here in Louisville.
Motivation reveals itself in many different places. Lorenzo Mauldin knows that because he has seen most of those places – and even more.
"I felt like I was on my own," Mauldin said. "I didn't want anybody to help me out. I wanted to just do everything on my own because nobody could do anything for me. All I wanted was my brother or my family together, you know?"
With a father out of the picture, and a mother constantly struggling with alcohol abuse, Mauldin was passed from foster home to foster home – 16 to be exact – while trying to be the man of his absent house well before he became a man.
"I would tell her, ‘Mom, you've got to stop drinking. That's the reason why you keep getting incarcerated: because of your drinking habits.'"
In 2008, when he was only 15 years old, Mauldin was split up from his brother and put into a group home.
Instead of following in the footsteps of role models who were substandard, Mauldin focused on football. He landed a scholarship to play for Steve Spurrier at the University of South Carolina.
"They told me that they wanted me to play defensive end for them – maybe linebacker or something like that. I was like ‘Okay.' I looked them up and everything. A few days before signing day, they told me that I wouldn't be able to sign an LOI because of my grades."
Eventually Spurrier gave away that scholarship, leaving Mauldin to start from scratch.
And that's when his phone rang.
"Coach Strong calls me on my way down to Troy University, and he says, ‘Mauldin, why don't you want to visit down here?' And I'm like, ‘Okay, I'm on my way to Troy right now, so I have to come next weekend.'"
Clint Hunt, an assistant coach for the University of Louisville, says he's glad the call was made.
"What happened with that situation is neither here nor there for us," said Clint Hunt, an assistant coach for U of L. "We're just happy that he's here with us."
A quick visit to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium made the decision clear: a football player without a home finally had one.
"This is an accomplishment for me," Mauldin said. "I'm glad that I made this decision on my own to come to Louisville. The rain helps me to gather everything that I have in life to realize that I made a good decision in life."
Now a sophomore, Mauldin has flown up the Cardinals' depth chart with uncapped potential that screams National Football League.
"He has the potential, definitely, to be a big time Big East football player with the potential to one day play in the NFL," Hunt said. "There's a lot of hard work ahead of that time and getting that done – and I believe that he will."
He's a man with a mission, rushing the passer with the ferocity of a defensive lineman in a china shop. Because now, Lorenzo Mauldin has a motivation: a family. His Louisville Cardinals family.
"I look at the team as if they were my brothers and sisters. I feel in place when I have a family environment around because I feel like I'm wanted. I feel like I need to help out this and that. It's a heartwarming situation for me."