Friday, November 18, 2005

We all Need a Second Chance.....

Now this is one cool story. We all need a second or even a third chance. What a story.

Freshman receiver leaves troubles behind, thrives in Hawaii

AP Sports Writer

HONOLULU (AP) - Davone Bess is making the most of his second chance.

Hawaii's standout freshman, who served 15 months in a juvenile detention facility before joining the Warriors, has emerged as one of the top college receivers in the nation.

Bess is ranked third nationally in receptions per game (8.1) and sixth in receiving yards per game (104.8). He's the only freshman in the top 20 in either category.

"I came to Hawaii so determined. God gave me a second chance, man, so I'm going to take full advantage of it," he said. "I'm going to do what I need to do to get on the field and stay on the field."

He leads the Warriors in receptions (81), receiving yards (1,048) and touchdowns (12).

Pretty impressive, considering Bess hadn't played the receiver position since his junior year at Skyline High School in Oakland, Calif. He was a quarterback in his last season, but still received a scholarship from Oregon State to play receiver.

But about a month after graduation, Bess ran into trouble with the law after allowing friends to put stolen property in his car.

"I made the dumb decision to even let them put the stuff in my car. So I'm not going to sit here and blame everything on them," he said. "I take full responsibility."

The mistake cost him a scholarship at Oregon State and more than a year of his life. It also jeopardized his football future.

"It was really depressing. I just felt like my life was over," he said. "I prayed every night. It was hard to see my mom coming to visit me, crying."

After being released, Bess' high school coach contacted Keith Bhonapha, a Skyline alumnus and graduate assistant at Hawaii. Bess eventually visited Warriors coach June Jones, who has taken troubled athletes and made them thrive in his system.

St. Louis Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan both had criminal cases before coming to Hawaii.

"All those guys know what's at stake. If they fail, they're not going to be here and they have a lot on the line," Jones said. "When Davone came here on his visit, he was just a great kid. He has a real good spirit about him.

"My gut feeling is, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Bess said Hawaii was exactly what he needed to turn around his life.

"It's just real different from back home. I don't have to worry about being at the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "Back home, there's a lot of things to get into. You can walk right into trouble and not even know it.

"Out here, it's more relaxed and there's real good people out here."

Jones put lofty expectations on Bess, months before the freshman with dreadlocks even caught his first pass, saying Bess might be the best receiver he's ever had.

The former NFL coach has also worked with players such as Andre Rison, Drew Hill, Ashley Lelie and Chad Owens.

Bess said the comments gave him extra incentive to succeed.

"I wouldn't say it put pressure on me," he said. "If anything, it motivated me and made me want to live up to what he saw in me. He advertised me to the public and I just didn't want to make me or him look like a fool, so I tried to work hard."

Although it's early in his career, the 5-foot-10, 187-pound Bess could easily break Hawaii's career marks in catches and receiving yards by the time he's done here.

Bess has already surpassed the 100-yard mark in seven of 10 games, including his last five. He recorded a career-high 171 receiving yards at Nevada earlier this month.

"He's been given God-gifted ability that not every kid gets," Brennan said. "He's a kid that played football his whole life and just grew up with a ton of passion."

Brennan, convicted of trespassing and cut from Colorado after a woman accused of him of drunkenly barging into her dorm room and abusing her, said he understands Bess' desire to make the most of his new opportunity.

"There's a level of humility, having to sit there in those courtrooms with our moms next to us, in chains," he said. "We can relate real well because me and him both went through a tragic situation that really turned our lives around."

While Bess has aspirations of playing the NFL, his first goal is to graduate. He is the first in his family to attend college and the first on his father's side to even finish high school.

"I want to make my mom proud and get that degree," he said. "I do have a dream to play in the NFL one day and hopefully that will work out, but I want to get that paper first."


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