Daily photo by Michael Wetzel|
Lawrence County High senior and guard on the basketball team Will Inman said he wears his No. 17 San Diego Chargers jersey or No. 17 N.C. State jersey to school "at least once a week." The jerseys are the number worn by Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who visited Inman at school in Moulton on Thursday.
Rivers surprises fan in Moulton
Inman left speechless by
NFL star QB's visit
By Michael Wetzel
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2462
MOULTON — When Lawrence County High students Will Inman and Carson Montgomery arrived at school Thursday morning, it was like any other winter day.
They had classes to attend. Friends to chat with. And for Will, a senior and a guard on the Red Devils' basketball team, practice at 1:45 p.m. For Carson, a junior and a tight end for the football squad, it meant working out with in the weight room during sixth period.
Will said some pals poked at him about being featured in that morning's Decatur Daily sports section as the subject of a 10-question weekly feature.
During basketball practice, boys varsity coach Stanley Johnson and a few of his players noticed a "tall fellow standing in the coaches offices' foyer."
"I thought the guy was a salesman," Johnson said. "I had ordered some jackets and figured he was somebody coming to talk about them."
After a few minutes, Johnson gave his players a break and approached the stranger.
"I was embarrassed when he introduced himself as Philip Rivers," Johnson said. "He told me he was there to meet Will."
During The Daily feature interview a couple of days earlier, Inman didn't hesitate when asked, "Who is a famous person you would like to meet?" Rivers' name was out of his mouth nearly before the question was finished.
Rivers, a native of Decatur and starting quarterback of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, was visiting his parents in Decatur, read the article and decided to give Inman and teammates a surprise visit.
Rivers prepped at Athens High before starring at North Carolina State. He was a first-round selection in the NFL draft in 2004.
"He didn't need to introduce himself to me. I knew who he was when he came into the gym," Inman said Friday. "I was just speechless. It was like I was in a dream. That somebody like Philip Rivers would come to my school to meet me, it is just unbelievable.
"I have followed him since he played at North Carolina State. He probably had no idea how big a fan I am of his. It is something I will never forget."
Inman said Rivers did say "he thought I had a good 3-point shot" after watching the team practice a few minutes.
For Montgomery, it's a day he won't forget either.
After Rivers visited with the basketball team, LCHS Principal Joe Lang took him to the field house to see the football players, including his eighth-grade son, Les.
"It's unbelievable that Philip Rivers came to our school," Montgomery said.
"You see a lot of these high-profile athletes on TV and wonder if they even know where Moulton, Alabama, is."
But the talkative Montgomery said he didn't pass up a chance of a lifetime.
"I wasn't afraid to talk to him," Montgomery said. "I talked to him like I have known him all my life. I asked him if he would please throw me a pass. He tossed me a short pass, and it's a catch I will never, ever forget."
He added, "I've always been a fan of his, but this is the highlight of my athletic career, my life."
Lang said that only about 40 people even knew he was campus during his 20-minute visit. No one remembers taking a photo and most were even too surprised to think of asking for an autograph.
"He must have apologized to me five or six times for disrupting basketball practice," Johnson said.
"For being such a star, he is so humble. ... After reading about the negative influences some sports stars have on today's society and then have Rivers come to the school just to meet Will speaks volumes for what kind of positive message this guy is sending, what kind of class act this guy is."
LCHS baseball coach and Will's dad, Anthony Inman, said he just "laughed it off and didn't believe it" when he heard Rivers had visited his son. Coach Inman was at the baseball field and missed the commotion surrounding Will and his son's sports idol.
Coach Inman said Rivers showed class taking time from his busy schedule to visit someone he read about in the newspaper.
"He'll never know how much the visit means to Will," he said. "Will couldn't sleep last night. It is something my son will talk about forever.
"You just can't put a price tag on something like this, with Rivers visiting Moulton and talking to Will and the kids here."
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