DALLAS (FWAA) – South Alabama's Bryson James is the weekly nominee for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award that will be announced at the end of the season. James, a linebacker from New Orleans, has overcome a premature birth – doctors believed he would be mentally disabled and would never learn to walk – to play college football. The 6-2, 235-pound senior, a backup at middle linebacker, has already earned his degree.
James was born four months premature; weighing less than a pound, he fit into his mother's hand. "They said that I was going to be retarded, that I wasn't going to walk or talk," James told The Press-Register of Mobile, Ala. "Now, I'm one of the smartest guy son the defense. I have a great family that has provided me with everything that I needed." Doctors credited, among other things, his mother's constant care for her infant son.
James' mother Valorie has undergone two brain surgeries, most recently when he was a high school senior, to correct blood flow and to remove a tumor. But she has rarely missed any of her son's games.
"If I can say one word about that guy, it's 'perseverance,'" South Alabama linebackers coach Travis Pearson told the newspaper. "... His story is unbelievable, from where he's come from."
For the eighth straight year, the Football Writers Association of America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce weekly nominees during the season. A blue-ribbon panel of FWAA members will determine the winner from all of the nominees.
The Courage Award was created by ESPN's senior columnist Gene Wojciechowski, also a FWAA member. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner 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 through hardship.
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), 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 is a 351-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2014. Other Orange Bowl 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 International Youth Regatta, Orange Bowl Swim Classic and Orange Bowl Paddle Championships. For more information on the 2013-14 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program, visit www.orangebowl.org.
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.
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.
2013 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
Sept. 25: Eric Fieilo, San Houston State
· Oct. 2: Gabe Woullard, East Carolina
Oct. 9: Bryson James, South Alabama
Oct. 16: Anthony Larceval, San José State
Oct. 23: Jim Weaver, Virginia Tech
Oct. 30: L'Damian Washington, Missouri
Nov. 6: Josh Stewart, Oklahoma State
Nov. 13: Case McCoy, Texas
Nov. 20: Coaching Staff, Minnesota
Orange Bowl Courage Award