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He stood there on crutches, still wearing a look of disbelief. How could this have happened?
This was Jevon Elmore, difference-maker, now unable to make a difference. Not with the freak injury to his leg that cost him a chance to play in the last football game of his high school career. A playoff game, too.
Elmore was left to watch New London High School lose by a point the next night.
How could such a noteworthy athletic career end like this?
And then it turned out his career wasn't over at all. Elmore, the kid his friends call "Jigga," authored quite the spring season. Not only did he return to football and earn the Defensive Most Valuable Player Award at the annual state all-star game with three interceptions, but his fleetness on the track earned him The Day's 2012 Boys' Track & Field Athlete of the Year.
Elmore, headed to West Point Prep to play football, won the 100 meters and the 400 at the Class MM championships. He won the 400 at the Eastern Connecticut Conference championships. He owns the school record in the 100 and 55 meters.
"Jevon Elmore, I love the kid," New London coach Jeff Larson said. "There's not another kid who has any more swag, whatever you want to call it, than Jevon Elmore. He makes big plays. I'm just excited to see him go (to West Point). And he's going to change his life. He's got that innate ability to get people to rally around him and believe in him. And when he does that, he's unstoppable, and that's what I see happening. They're going to respond to Jevon Elmore."
Elmore's first and last acts playing sports at New London support Larson's words.
First varsity football game: He returned the first ball he touched, a kickoff, 85 yards for a touchdown.
Last varsity season on the track: He won the 100 and 400 at the state level, running and running and running away from everyone else, just like the first time.
Elmore, quite popular in school, finished his academic career with a 3.4 grade point average and as a high honors student. He was also a finalist for the Martin Luther King Scholarship given to a student in the region every year.
A portion of his essay to the scholarship committee:
"Walking the halls of New London High School is an unrealistic scene of indifference," Elmore wrote. "Maybe that's the reason why we have every national flag hanging in our main entrance and how they're all painted in the main hall. We are the most diverse school in eastern Connecticut and I witness equality at a whole different level. Not to mention I am a young African American who shares Latin and Filipino blood.
"Mr. King was a man who lived by the Bible. He saw all flesh as all the same. He gave many individuals hope in the sense that social equality will come and life would be lived through the word of God. I wake up to a house with African Americans, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans eating at the same dining room table. Some may ask 'how does that feel?' But all I see is family."
Maybe now it's clearer why a military academy wanted him. The seven interceptions this past season and four touchdowns in the 2010 playoffs didn't hurt either.
"My official visit was my deciding factor. It blew me away," Elmore said. "My future will be taken care of after I graduate. West Point teaches you character, leadership, and how to defend your country. You can't get that anywhere else.
"I had a lot of different opportunities thrown my way, not only athletics but also for academics," he said. "Yes, athletics opened a lot of doors and pathways for me but football has always been a secondary option, which was drilled into my head by my mother (Michele Lucas).
"So as the recruiting process unfolded, we discussed academics first and then football. So here comes Army, one of the most prestigious institutions known to man. With the historic background and a state of the art Division I football program, it was hard not to commit there."