Jeremiah Allison knows his mom can hear him.
At least he's pretty sure she can. And that's enough for him.
The sound of his voice, he says, makes her move a bit in the hospital bed she's been confined to since she fell into a coma after suffering a massive heart attack in December.
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"She hears me," Allison, a star football player at Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey High said. "Well, I don't know that for sure. But whenever I talk to her, or my grandmother does, she moves."
Monday night, he spoke the words she has been eager to hear for years as he announced he was accepting a full scholarship to attend college. He's headed to Washington State University.
It was one of the most touching and thoughtful college announcement ceremonies ever.
It didn't take place at his high school or a local restaurant. It wasn't with a host of other area players, as had been planned. It wasn't broadcast on local TV.
It took place at his mom's bed side.
"I visit my mom every day," Allison said. "So (Monday), I went in and stood by her. I called Coach [Mike] Leach with my mom right in the room."
It was just another special moment in a special relationship between a single mom and her son.
Lucille Allison always has been there for her son.
The two, along with his older sister and infant brother, moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles when Jeremiah was 6.
Lucille has made sure her son would not fall victim to the city from the first day, preaching education above anything else. It worked. Jeremiah is a straight-A student.
While many city stars earn invites to summer football camps, Jeremiah's academic prowess earned him consecutive summer trips to UCLA to participate in the V.I.P Scholars - a program reserved each year for the Top 30 scholars from the Pasadena/L.A. area.
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"Every summer, if I am not working on my game, I am doing something school-related," Allison said. "The last two summers, it's been V.I.P.S. It's a program that enriches our views on society."
It's a program that is right in Jeremiah's wheelhouse. A ferocious 6-foot-1, 220-pounder on the field, he is low-key and intellectually curious off it.
"Education is the key to everything," he said. "I just happened to be good at football, too. You put those two together and you have a very dynamic individual."
The football part drew Leach's attention quickly. Jeremiah is a three-time All-City selection who holds the L.A. city record for sacks in his career at 63.
Jeremiah played mostly defensive end for Dorsey, leading them to two semifinal and a quarterfinal playoff round game over the past three seasons. He likely will play a sort of hybrid defensive end/linebacker in the Cougars 3-4 defense.
He hopes his mom will be able to see him play.
For as much as Lucille Allison pushed her son to success, she made sure he enjoyed it along the way.
In fact, she made sure they both enjoyed it.
"She loved all of the cameras," Jeremiah said, chuckling. "I remember one day doing an interview. I watched it later and there was my mom walking behind me. She was looking right into the camera. She was doing it on purpose."
Jeremiah never minded his mom's presence.
Her absence from his daily life, in fact, has made him appreciate just how much she means to him.
Jeremiah realized that when she couldn't accompany him to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Phoenix in early January.
"I was down there and it just was so weird not to have my mom with me," he said. "I just get such a kick out of seeing how she reacts to certain situations."
And how she would handle certain things for him.
"Most players, when all these coaches call, it's their parents who field the calls," he said. "With this (the heart attack), it's been stressful."
Almost too much for the 17-year old.
"At one point, I became pretty overwhelmed," he said. "She wasn't there as an outlet for me. It came to a point where I had to take a timeout, talk to my mentor (Lonnie Pumphrey) and a friend."
Jeremiah was undersized when he started playing football. Because of it, he developed an underdog philosophy. One, he says, he's never lost.
"Take the Super Bowl," he said. "I am going for the Giants, because they are the underdog."
That mentality also helped draw him to the struggling Cougars, who are trying to turn around their program after hiring Leach this off-season.
"One thing I took into consideration was all the explosive athletes that are coming into the program," he said. "And there is no pressure on our backs. Because people think we're not going to make any noise, we can go in and upset people.
"Being the underdog constantly keeps me motivated. I have only one motor, and it's going 100 percent."
He says his mom has that same fighting spirit.
He thinks he sees progress and that she's getting better, but he admits he doesn't know how things will turn out.
The doctors, he says, can only offer opinions.
"She's such a strong individual," Jeremiah said. "She has prepared me for everything that has come up. Obviously, I've had my sorrows, and I've had to grow up a little early. But there was going to come the time when I had to leave her, anyway.
"All I have to do is stay on the path she put me on, and it all will work out."
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