DALLAS (FWAA) – The University of Memphis' Haracio
Colen is the third winner of the ESPN The Magazine
Courage Award, as voted by members of the Football Writers
Association of America.
He will be presented the trophy during the FWAA awards breakfast
Tuesday, Jan. 4, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
a 6-3, 286-pound sophomore defensive tackle, witnessed a horrifying
accident in early September of 1999. Colen, 15 years old at the
time, was en route to watch an Arkansas-Pine Bluff football game
when his father, Eddie, was instantly killed and his mother, Joyce,
His parents' pickup truck, traveling in front of him and another
friend in a car, blew a tire and spun out of control.
His father was crushed. His mother was sent through the windshield
and died of internal injuries a month later.
The tragic accident could have spelled the end to a promising
football career. The night before the accident, which changed Colen's
life forever, he had played in his first game for Russellville (Ark.)
High School and recorded 17 tackles.
Through his remaining high school years, Colen struggled with
his own psychological damage. With the help of two aunts who picked
up their belongings from Louisiana and Texas and moved to Arkansas,
Colen was shepherded through the ordeal by his family and received
an opportunity to play college football at Memphis.
"I've had a whole lot of people wrap me up in their arms," Colen
told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "How can I let them down?"
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine senior
writer Gene Wojciechowski, an FWAA member. A select group of writers
from the FWAA vote on the award. The requirements include displaying
a courageous act, on or off the field, including overcoming an injury
or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through a
lifetime of hardship.
The first winner of the award, in 2002, was Toledo's William
Bratton, who was diagnosed with a blood disorder (a combination
of sickle-cell and thalassemia) when he was eight years old. He
has endured a life of chronic and debilitating pain. The average
life expectancy of African-Americans afflicted with this disease
is the mid 40s.
In spite of the disorder, Bratton was the starting tailback for
the Rockets during the 2002 season until he suffered a fractured
ankle in late October.
In 2003, San Jose State's Neil Parry, a former walk-on, won the
Courage Award after suffering an almost certain career-ending injury.
Parry had part of his right leg amputated following a severe
break during a game against UTEP in 2000. The leg became infected,
requiring surgery. After several surgeries and setbacks, Parry made
his return to the field during a game against Nevada in the 2003
season with the help of a specially fitted prosthetic device.
• FedEx Orange Bowl Courage