NFL

Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s Remarkable Journey to the First Round of the NFL Draft

When NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs had selected LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire as the final pick of the first round in the 2020 NFL draft, like the other players selected, that moment was the culmination of years of hard work. That announcement was also validation for Edwards-Helaire’s mom and two fathers that they absolutely got it right.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and his two fathers

Just six months after Clyde Edwards Jr. was born, his father, Clyde Edwards Sr. was arrested for possession of cocaine. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Not long after Edwards arrived in prison, Clyde’s mother Tonge, met Shannon Helaire. The pair’s relationship blossomed. From day one, Helaire always treated the young boy like his own son. He taught him everything from how to be respectful and look another man in the eye, to how to fish and play sports including football.

Initially, Tonge thought her son was too small to play football. After consulting with his father behind bars, the youngster started playing football and started turning heads in the process. Despite his successes, each year there were doubters who questioned his size and would predict the next year his size would catch up to him. It never did. Clyde excelled.

In his early teen years, as the trophies began to pile up, Clyde felt a need for a change. He wanted to change his name. He didn’t want to remove the name of his father still in prison, but he wanted to honor the man who had raised him and taught him everything he knew. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was born.

Clyde Sr. gets out of prison

In 2014, Clyde Sr. was released from prison early for good behavior after serving 14 years of his 30-year sentence. Immediately upon his release, he connected with his son and made a promise—he would be there for his son whenever he needed him because he wanted to make up for lost time.

His father has lived up to that promise. He attended all of his son’s high school football games and watched in amazement as his undersized son continued to excel. He did so cheering alongside Tonge and her husband, Shannon. 

While some thought the relationship between the two men could be contentious or even confrontational, it never happened. Both men are incredibly supportive of their son and respectful of each other. Shannon said in an interview with ESPN that the pair sit next to each other at home games and high five when their son does something well. There’s been a lot of high-fiving lately.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire becomes star at LSU

In 2017, Clyde Edwards-Helaire debuted as a freshman running back for the LSU Tigers. That was an accomplishment in itself considering so many never envisioned he would make it to the NCAA, much less on a top-level team.

Generally, the shortest guy on the field at 5-foot-7, Edwards-Helaire made a huge impact for the Tigers in 2019 rushing for 1,414 yards and scoring 16 touchdowns. He also caught 55 passes and added a touchdown receiving. 

On November 9, 2019, Edwards-Helaire made a statement. In that game, he dispelled any doubts about his ability to play at the highest level when he led the Tigers on the road against No. 2 Alabama by scoring four touchdowns (3 running and 1 receiving) and rushing for 103 yards as LSU defeated the Crimson Tide 46-41. He also rushed for 110 yards as the Tigers defeated Clemson in the national title game.

After years of people questioning his size and ability, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has not only proven he is capable of playing college football, but he’s one of the best at his position. Day one of the 2020 NFL draft confirmed that. Back in Louisiana, his two dads high-fived.