DALLAS (FWAA) – Miami's Mike James is the weekly
nominee for the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award,
to be announced at the end of the season. James, a junior running
back from Haines City, Fla., has persevered this season after the
untimely death of his mother.
Elgusta James, 47, passed away as a result of a car accident
in Haines City last December. Mike James' older sister, Jasmine
was driving and suffered serious injuries. His 5-year-old nephew
Jayden was seriously injured, as well. Both have recovered.
The Hurricanes were in the midst of preparations for the Sun
Bowl. Although his mother's funeral was set for New Year's Eve,
the same day as the bowl game, James decided to play in honor of
his mother, believing she would have wanted him to.
Elgusta James was Mike's inspiration. As a child, he was overweight;
his mother helped him shed pounds and become physically and mentally
tougher in order to help him toward his dream of playing running
back and college football.
In the Sun Bowl loss to Notre Dame, James had four carries and
four catches for a total of 28 yards. Although Miami's backfield
was crowded with talented players, coaches gave him the first carry.
James told the Miami Herald last spring that dealing with his
mother's death has been "very tough day in and day out."
"I'm doing the best I can," he said, "coping and trying to play
ball at the same time. ... The smile is not like it used to be,
but I wake up every day and try to be positive."
Through seven games this season, James is the Hurricanes' second-leading
rusher, with 186 yards and three touchdowns on 50 carries. He has
five catches for 33 yards and another TD.
"There are moments where he finally realizes his loss and then
we're there for him," Miami coach Al Golden told the Newspaper,
"because he's been there for all of us. He is just a great kid."
the sixth straight year, the Football Writers Association of
America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a
weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award
each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine
the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient
of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented
with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer
Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA
members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination
include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming
an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Rutgers defensive
tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football
team (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton
(2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football
team (2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil
Parry (2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a 341-member, primarily-volunteer
non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South
Florida community. The Orange Bowl Festival features a year-round
schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on
January 4, 2012. Other OBC core events include the MetroPCS Orange
Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented
by Sports Authority, Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships,
Orange Bowl Sailing Regatta Series and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships.
For more information on the 2011-12 Orange Bowl Festival and its
events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through
the Ambassador Program, visit
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football
for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works
to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America
team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve
Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
2011 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 28: Shane Blissard and Robbie Stewart, Middle
• Oct. 5: Carson Tinker, Alabama
• Oct. 12: Blaine Irby, Texas
• Oct. 19: David Lerner, Florida
• Oct. 26: Mike James, Miami
• Nov. 2: Arthur Ray Jr., Michigan State
• Nov. 16: Shane Simpson and Jack Long, Missouri
• Orange Bowl Courage Award