Lawson finds maturity in face of adversity

by - Senior Writer -

CENTRAL – Shaq Lawson stood at midfield at Daniel’s Singleton Field with his teammates Friday night, celebrating the Lions’ 46-0 first round playoff win over Travelers Rest, and it was evident that most of the other players look up to their defensive leader.

Lawson and his Daniel teammates had just completed their sixth shutout of the season, and as the team gathered together to high-five and speculate about who the next opponent would be, Lawson did a little dance that drew the laughter of his teammates.

Daniel head coach Randy Robinson then spoke to the team, and reminded each of them to stay out of trouble over the weekend, to clean up their lockers and stools, and make sure that their jerseys and pants were turned right-side out at their lockers after they changed.

Robinson then looked at the group, and said, “Can I trust you seniors to do this?”

Lawson’s voice rose from the back, and he said, “We got this coach. You can trust us.”

That one moment, of Lawson changing from a happy 18-year old cut-up to mature team leader in the blink of an eye, shows the transformation that the Clemson commitment has undergone since his life changed in the same blink of an eye back in April.

Lawson was at home with his two brothers and two sisters when his mother called with the news that would change his life forever – his father, Lawrence Lawson, had just been killed in an auto accident.

Lawson, 49, was driving his 1997 Chevy Blazer down Eighteen Mile Road just outside of Central when it collided with a 2004 Ford pickup that was traveling east on the same road. Lawson died of his injuries, and Shaq knew he was now the man of the house.

“My mom called and told us, and that was really hard,” Lawson said. “But at the same time, I knew it was time for me to step up. I have an older sister, but I am the second-oldest and I knew I had to be the man of the house. I knew I had to grow up.”

Robinson said he was unsure what to expect when he went to see the family that night.

“I think sometimes kids handle things better than adults,” Robinson said. “He handled it so well. I was amazed seeing him that night, and then seeing him respond. It caused a lot of growth, and now he is more mature. He is still a cut-up, but this definitely has changed him.”

Lawson said he stayed away from school for a while as he dealt with his grief, but knew he had to face his life again because it was what his dad would have wanted.

“I didn’t go to school for weeks,” he said. “But something told me I had to do it for him. I knew I had to face the rest of the year. It was tough, because I had exams at that time and I was behind. I had to come back and make up all that time. It was tough.”

Lawson had committed to the Tigers in March, and he knew he had to keep his father’s dream for him alive as well.

“When I came back, I knew I needed to play football,” he said. “My daddy always wanted me to go to college, and I started working harder because that was one of his goals. I picked Clemson because they were the best fit for me. And when I got back, it wasn’t really that tough me for me because I have had to be a leader at home to my brothers and sisters.”

Robinson said he has seen a more serious Shaq since late April, but he still sees the kid who is enjoying his senior year as well.

“He is still going to be the life of the party,” Robinson said. “He is still going to put a smile on your face. That was a tough one to handle, for anybody, but he handled it well.”

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