From adversity to success, how football turned Jalen Monrrow's life around

"You know I cried, I cried like a baby when I heard what Jalen had to overcome." - Lafayette Jeff head football coach Pat Shanley

Posted: Oct 1, 2018 8:55 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Despite his success on the field, things haven't always been easy for one Lafayette Jeff football player.

"You know I cried," said Lafayette Jeff head football coach Pat Shanley. "I cried like a baby when I heard what Jalen had to overcome."

When Jalen Monrrow moved from Chicago to Lafayette, football turned his life around. 

"I thought I was going to die," said Monrrow. "Like my mom and my family, they said that either I am going to be dead or in jail because I started hanging out in the wrong crowd." 

The Lafayette Jeff Defensive lineman hasn't always had to worry about which quarterback he'd get to sack next. His life growing up, it was much different.

"The town I'm from, the city I'm from, it's just bad." said Monrrow. "I would be nervous to go to school, because I didn't want to die or nothing."

After losing his father at a young age, Jalen's mother decided to move her family to Lafayette, away from the violence.

"She's a hard working lady, like I barely see her that much, because she works, trying to get a better life for me and my sister." said Monrrow. 

Soon after the move, Jalen found another role model. Jeff Head Coach Pat Shanley, who saw the potential Jalen had not only as a football player, but as a person.

"I just talked to him and said hey man there's going to come a time when you get to play out there in front of our home town and it's going to be something special," said Shanley. 

The player, coach relationship Shanley and Monrrow have, doesn't end on the field.

"You know Jalen is somebody that feels like a second son to me, and I know a lot of other coaches feel that same way, not only about Jalen but about a lot of our student athletes here," said Shanley. 

Shanley introduced Monrrow to Jeff football. It's become more than a game for him. He's focused on goals most high school students aren't worried about.

"I know if I don't continue my dream, I know my family won't make it nowhere, so I'm trying to help my family out and make a better life," said Monrrow. 

And that drive, will fuel Jalen far beyond the game.

"The thing I love most, is just love to be on that field," said Monrrow. 

"Whatever he sets his mind to, he's going to accomplish and he's going to do it, and the sky is the limit for Jalen Monrrow," said Shanley. 

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