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Keep An Eye On Deon

Give him credit. He understood what dead-end jobs were, though he's careful to point out there is nothing wrong with working the overnight shift at FedEx or at UPS, Wal-Mart, B.J.'s, Sam's Club or pumping gas at a gas station - "Just moving from job to job," he said. 

It's just that after three years of college he had aspired to more. 

Something had to change. 

"Every time I'd come home, you know, my family, they would be proud of me," Anderson said. "They said like, 'Oh Deon, you are taking the right steps to meet your goals.' But getting released from UConn and not going to school, I knew they couldn't look at me in the same light. I really couldn't face my family. 

"So I decided no matter what it takes, I'm going to get back on my feet. I'm not going to put this burden on anyone else's shoulders." 

Anderson reapplied to UConn for the spring semester and was admitted. But there was one catch: That football scholarship had disappeared. So had his spot on the team. He now had to pay his own way, so with the help of an aunt, he took out a loan; thought he had enough money between that and what he had made to get through school. 

And he did, you know, to cover tuition, books and a partial meal plan. But unfortunately, there wasn't enough to cover board - like someplace to live - "Wow man, I didn't factor in a place to stay," he said. 

And where he had been living while working, a $150-a-month apartment complex, was no place for him any more. 

"A really, really baaad apartment, man," Anderson said. 

Drugs and gangs everywhere. 

"I saw kids younger than me - saw 18- and 19-year-olds with syringes in their arms, man," Anderson said. "I sitting there was watching gangs . . . yeah, I got to get out of here." 

So he concocted this plan. He moved all his earthly belongings, basically clothes and what not, into a friend's broken down car parked on campus. That car wasn't going anywhere, thus a rent-free pod of sorts. 

And he remembered the old locker room in the facilities building, and how guys who had to show up for 6 a.m. punishment runs would shower in there afterward. He recalled there was a lounge area, complete with a couch. And he knew the way in, but also that the place was so old you worried about attracting a staph infection. 

But hey, free board if willing. 

Yep, Anderson would sleep on the couch, wake up every morning at 5:50 "before the cleaning crew came in" and acted as if he had been in there early for a workout so no one would suspect a thing. He'd grab a shower, hang in there until around 7, then go grab some breakfast. After that, he'd bide his time in the library until his first class. 

This would be his routine, and to be repeated daily, each day ending with a trip to the dilapidated car to pick up some fresh clothes for the next day and then squeeze into the old locker room for the night. 

This would be his routine - the sacrifice he was willing to make - to get back on his feet. 

But it wasn't long before word got back to him that UConn head coach Randy Edsall wanted to talk to him. Worry set in. 

"Darn, am I in trouble again?" he would think. "I'm not even on the team." 

He could laugh about it now. Not then. 

"So I went to go see Coach," Anderson recalls, "and he was very blunt: 'I told you if you help yourself out, I'll help you out . . . if you get your grades up, get eligible, I'll see what I can do. I'll let you walk-on the team, just like a regular student.' 

"I was like of course, that's more than I can ask for." 

Now he could add meetings and practice to his daily routine, a few more time- and place-eaters before ending up in the locker room for a good (?) night's sleep then head coach to this day insists he knew nothing about. 

"For the entire semester," Anderson says, able to laugh now at his one-time scene no one ever discovered. 

By time the semester ended, he knew enough people who had roommates moving out for the summer. So he moved out of the locker room-car combo into more suitable digs, for like real cheap. 

But by then, too, Edsall had made an announcement to the entire team at the end of spring workouts: Deon

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