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While running backs might not be the focal point of most NFL offense anymore, a talented ball-carrier can still make a world of difference to any team. Take, for example, David Montgomery of the Chicago Bears; without the back’s 1,508 total yards and 10 touchdowns, it’s unlikely that Matt Nagy’s men would have made the playoffs.

Although David Montgomery now seems destined for surefire NFL stardom, his life hasn’t always been a walk in the park. In fact, the Chicago Bears running back had to overcome frequent moves, gas station water, and a tragic murder before ever making it to the NFL.

David Montgomery has looked good during his young football career

At this point in his young career, David Montgomery is still a relative newcomer on the NFL scene. During his time on the gridiron, though, the running back has proven himself to be quite the talent.

Despite a strong high school career as a dual-threat quarterback, Montgomery didn’t earn much attention from big-time NCAA programs; in fact, he ended up playing his college football at Iowa State. While he made an impact as a freshman, the Cyclones running back truly exploded during his second season on campus.

With a season of NCAA experience under his belt, Montgomery took his game to the next level as a sophomore, rushing for 1,146 yards and 11 touchdowns; that was enough to earn him First-Team All-Big 12 honors. As a junior, he got even better, chewing up 1,216 yards of turf and scoring 13 touchdowns.

On the back of that success, Montgomery entered into the 2019 NFL draft. He ended up joining the Chicago Bears as the 73rd-overall pick. In the pros, he’s proven to be a legitimate offensive threat, capable of carrying the ball or catching passes out of the backfield with equal ease.

A tough childhood and a tragic murder

If you only knew about his football career, you might think David Montgomery is living on easy street; while he was never the most highly-touted talent, he made it to NFL and is proving to be a real talent. Growing up in Cincinnati, though, things were far from perfect.

“Montgomery’s mother had to move the family often to make ends meet,” Scott Springer explained in a 2019 Cincinnati Enquirer story. “He doesn’t know his father, and he has a brother imprisoned for murder from a drug deal gone bad.”

Even when the family had somewhere to stay, things weren’t ideal.

“If the electricity got turned off, we’d always open the oven and stay warm,” Montgomery remembered. “If the water got turned off, we’d get gallons of water from Speedway and boil water on the oven and put it in the tub.”

During high school, the running back also experienced a painful loss. Vince Turnage, a fellow football player, a friend of Montgomery’s brother, and a “role model” to David, was murdered in a home invasion.

David Montgomery now seems poised for a bright future

Growing up, David Montgomery had to contend with some pretty tough circumstances. These days, though, he seems well on his way to a bright future.

As mentioned above, Montgomery has looked pretty good during his relatively brief time in the pros. While he always possessed plenty of talent, the running back truly established himself as the Bears’ go-to guy down the stretch; Chicago probably doesn’t make the playoffs without his strong performances down the stretch.

While predicting the future for running backs can be tricky—they take a massive beating every game, and teams can be hesitant to hand out big-money deals—it’s safe to assume that Montgomery is in line for a nice raise. Based on Spotrac’s data, he’s wrapping up the second season of a four-year, $4 million deal; at his current rate, he’ll be making more than that in a single season before long.

Growing up, David Montgomery had to frequently move, heat the house with the oven, and fill the bathtub with jugs of water from the gas station. Those challenges, however, helped make him the man he is today.

Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference and Pro-Football-Reference