Adrian Peterson thanks hometown for success

10:58 AM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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PALESTINE, Texas -- There is an ancient proverb that says "it takes a village to raise a child."

For Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, that village was Palestine, Texas.

Nowhere is Palestine's love for the reigning NFL MVP more prevalent than on Adrian Peterson Day, the one day each year where Peterson take the opportunity to say thank you to the village of people who raised him.

"This is my biggest fan base, my true fans. Supporting them and showing them that, hey, I got your back as well. I feel like it's the least I can do," Peterson said.

In a sport that can be full of egos sometimes even larger than the men that play it, by all accounts, Adrian Peterson is devoid of any of it.

"Most people with his status have that prima-donna look about themselves that they don't do," said Peterson's father, Nelson Peterson.

Not that his road to stardom has been without bumps. Peterson dealt with tragedy growing up in Palestine when his brother Brian died at the age of 7 after being struck by a car.

"That was a tough time for a 7 year old at the time. My mom really struggled and I remember at a young age that it was tough," Peterson said.

"Adrian tried to be strong for me, as a little kid. It seemed like I cried for a solid year, but he was always there saying, 'mom it's going to be alright'," said Peterson's mother Benita Jackson.

Peterson's toughness was forged by other adverse events as he grew up. His father Nelson served a prison term for money laundering. The two stayed close, talking often of the phone.

Coaches at Peterson's high school knew early on that Peterson was special. Jeff Harrell coached Adrian from his sophomore year through the time he graduated.

"I knew in high school that he was the best football player I'd ever been around," said Harrell. "Always a team player, always wanting to do the right thing, always wanting to do what everyone else did. He never once tried to get out of something the other players did."

By the time Peterson was a senior Harrell had to dedicate a member of his staff just to deal with Adrian's media requests and endless autograph seekers.

"He's been blessed. The lord has blessed him. His life has taken a turn for greatness, but he's not forgotten where he's from or forgotten who got him here," said Jackson.

Peterson knows football won't last forever. He hopes people will eventually remember him as a person, not just a ball player.

"What I was able to do for the community, what I was able to do for the world, that's the scope I want to touch in the bigger scheme of things. Life is way more important than football," said Peterson.

Peterson's family still lives in Palestine. He travels back to his hometown every year for "Adrian Peterson Day".



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