San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is one of the most exciting young players in the NFL. Just two years in, he’s already played in a Super Bowl and appears on pace to become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. However, he did not get here by chance. Samuel had a tough upbringing, with his mother’s experience with substance misuse causing a rift in their relationship. When Samuel made it to the NFL, however, everything changed for the better.
Deebo Samuel enters the NFL
Penning a piece for GQ, Samuel spoke about his tough life growing up on the streets of Spartanburg, South Carolina. He lost a good friend to gun violence when he was just eleven years old. While Samuel is a promising young player in the NFL, the same problems remain. He noted how his cousin, Amir, was shot in the last year.
Growing up with a mother who, as he put it, was taken by “the streets,” Samuel moved in with his grandmother Kat. Once middle school hit, however, he was once again without a stable home. That’s when his stepmother, Precious, took a more active role in his life. Now, he credits her for getting him the skills he needed to make it to college and, eventually, the pros. Now making that NFL money, Samuel wants to pay back everyone who helped him along the way.
Samuel sends his mom to rehab
Growing up with a mother with a substance use disorder, Samuel could have alienated her for falling in with the wrong crowd. Instead, he used her struggles as motivation not to fall into the same trap. Samuel helped her when he had the means to do so.
“Times were rough, but I kept saying to myself, when I make it to the NFL, I’m gonna get my biological mom some help. When I got to that life, I sent Felicia to a rehab facility to get her mind straight. When she completed her stint there, I bought her a house. I got her up on her feet, and now she’s back, she’s working at a regular restaurant, she’s good. She’s doing the things she’s supposed to be doing,” the 49er told GQ.
According to him, Precious and Felicia are now good friends. With Felicia receiving the help she needed, she does not harbor any ill will toward his stepmother. If you ask Deebo, Samuel has two mothers and a late grandmother who all got him to where he is today. Now, he wants to pay it forward. And he’s doing an excellent job in the NFL.
Samuel gets his time to shine as a 49ers wide receiver
Perhaps, overcoming the adversity that Samuel faced early on in life was part of why he is already so NFL-ready. Pro Football Reference shows precisely how he helped lead the 49ers offense to the Super Bowl in 2019. His loss was a significant reason behind their ensuing struggles in 2020. Samuel’s rookie season started on the bench. But one-third of the way through the season, Kyle Shanahan called his number and did not look back.
Samuel finished the 2019 campaign averaging nearly ten yards every time he was targeted, rushing for three touchdowns while receiving as many from Jimmy Garoppolo’s passes. Everyone looked forward to his sophomore year, but injuries kept him sidelined for the bulk of the season. As such, the pressure is on for the third-year receiver to show that he’s the real deal.
The 49ers have had a tumultuous offseason already, with questions about Garoppolo and the rest of the team’s place coming just a year and change after they almost won the Super Bowl. However, Samuel’s story shows a man who never cowers in adversity’s face, and with his personal life healing, his best football should still be ahead of him.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.