Football flameout Maurice Clarett has found a new home in Rugby, and says he’s committed to making it on the U.S. team for the Rio Olympics.
The 29-year-old former Ohio State star has joined up with the Tiger Rugby Olympic Development Program in Columbus, and team director Paul Holmes told Rugby Mag that he couldn’t be happier with the decision:
“He’s ridiculous. That’s all I can say. His footwork is phenomenal. He’s nowhere near conditioned for rugby, but that will come… The stuff he’s doing in the gym right now, he’s just ridiculous.”
Clarett led Ohio State in rushing his freshman year in 2002, and scored the winning touchdown in overtime of the Fiesta Bowl to secure the BCS National Championship for his team. But academic and behavioral problems got him suspended and then dismissed in 2003.
Clarett failed to sue his way into the NFL Draft after being named ineligible due to his age, then sat out a year before being drafted by the Broncos in 2005. He was released before he ever played an NFL game.
Oh, then Clarett spent four years in jail for armed robbery and illegal gun possession. But Walker says they’ve done their homework on Clarett, and made sure he’s matured through his experiences.
“We hit up a few guys whose opinion we value…” Walker said. “We’ve been assured by people that we trust that he’s a different person, that he’s found himself. And I believe in giving him a shot.”
Walker says that Clarett doesn’t really know the game yet, but will begin training with the team immediately to learn the ins and outs of the sport, and to get in shape so he can aim for a spot in Rio.
David Ortiz called his good friend Aly Raisman on Thursday night. Raisman had one request for their scheduled meeting for Friday.
“I told him that he had to hold my medals while I threw out the first pitch,” Raisman said on NESN. “I told him he better not forget, but he remembered.”
Ortiz made it a highlight, wearing Raisman’s three Rio medals and plodding as if they were weighing him down before the Royals-Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Friday night.
It was reminiscent of Bryce Harper serving as a medal rack for Katie Ledecky on Wednesday night.
Ortiz and Raisman have come to know each other in the last four years, after Raisman’s first Olympic appearance in London. Raisman, a native of Needham, Massachusetts, has attended a gala and golf tournament benefitting Ortiz’s children’s charity.
She previously threw a first pitch at Fenway following the 2012 London Games. It didn’t faze Raisman that her pitch Friday bounced before reaching home plate.
“My pitch was horrible, but that’s OK,” Raisman said on NESN. “I’m good at gymnastics, so it doesn’t matter.”
Raisman will rejoin her Final Five teammates for a USA Gymnastics tour of 36 cities that begins Sept. 15. Whether she returns to competitive gymnastics is unknown.
MORE: Gymnastics royalty reacts to Biles and Raisman’s Olympic heroics
Claressa Shields may just be the most dominant female athlete on the planet. The Flint, Mich., native is now a two-time Olympic boxing champion with a 77-1 record and a four-year unbeaten streak.
Actor Mark Wahlberg, who played boxer Micky Ward in the 2010 film “The Fighter,” took notice.
He taped a video that Shields watched before a celebration in her hometown Thursday, according to the Flint Journal.
“You are the true definition of a champion,” Wahlberg said. “You continue to inspire so many people, not only in Flint, but all over the world. I’m so proud of you. Your performance was amazing. God bless you. I look forward to seeing you, and I look forward to doing lots of things with you.”
Now Shields must decide whether to turn professional, which would end her Olympic career.
“Professional women’s boxing is not nowhere near on the same attention level as the Olympics are,” the 21-year-old Shields said, according to the Flint Journal. “I get way more attention than any female boxer who is professional right now with me being an amateur.
“So the goal is to go professional but still have that same attention and same mainstream. Hopefully, if they have the rule changed that the women professionals can come back and fight the Olympics, I would go professional to fight on TV and make a bunch of money but then come back and defend my two gold medals in 2020.”
MORE: Shields becomes first U.S. fighter to win back-to-back golds