After NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced him as the No. 4 pick, Curry hugged his mother, Chris, and allowed the moment to overcome him. He couldn’t stop weeping. His emotions were the product of reaching a milestone that seemed impossible five years ago. They expressed the joy of a former afterthought athlete who weighed only 195 pounds when he entered college and who watched helplessly when his mother was evicted from their home just two years ago.
He wasn’t going to be embarrassed by those tears. He wasn’t going to play tough. He earned this moment.
“Thank you, Mom, for everything that you’ve done for me,” Curry said during their embrace.
She steered him back to Wake Forest last year after he considered going pro early to support his family. He probably would’ve been a third-round pick then. His reward for waiting: He’s now a central figure in the Seahawks’ efforts to rebuild after a 4-12 collapse in 2008.
He’s in the NFL, primed to receive about $25 million guaranteed, and for most players, that would be enough. Not for Curry. Considering how far he’s come in a short time, he’s unwilling to stop now.
“The funny thing is that I’m just getting started,” he said.
It will take several years to find out whether the Seahawks selected the best player with this crucial draft choice. But you only have to listen to the kid for 20 minutes to feel like they picked the best person.
The Seahawks could find no red flags for Curry. After interviewing him at the NFL combine, they were so convinced of his character that they didn’t bother bringing him to Seattle for a visit. Instead, they tried to hide their interest in the linebacker.
What’s not to like about Curry? He’s a self-made star. He was a skinny high-school senior who joked that he was “about 200 pounds, soaking and wet after breakfast and lunch.”
Ask him what schools besides Wake Forest recruited him, Curry says, “East Carolina — and that’s where the list stops.”
Over five years at Wake Forest, Curry gained about 60 pounds and gradually progressed until he became the most physical and versatile collegiate linebacker in the nation. He helped lead Wake Forest to a BCS bowl two years ago, an unheard-of feat for a school with little football tradition. After that school year, he faced the biggest challenge of his life.