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Recently, he read about his cousin’s husband getting shot and killed in front of their children. He could rattle off a list of people he knew in high school who are dead or in jail. Thomas talks matter-of-factly about the lurking dangers growing up in inner-city Miami, but there is a gravity to his voice, too.

Because Thomas understands his decision to go to Oklahoma could have saved his life.

Rather than play close to home at Miami, Ahmad Thomas opted to go halfway across the country. It's a decision that has paid off in more ways than one. AP Photo/Alonzo Adams

Rather than play close to home at Miami, Thomas opted to go halfway across the country. He became an All-Big 12 safety this season and is returning home to play in the College Football Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl against Clemson - though the posh team hotel on a golf course in Doral is a far cry from where he grew up, a short distance away.

“I’m glad I left, ” Thomas said during an Orange Bowl media session Sunday. “Because I could have just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. I could have been doing that and in the streets. I could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time and gotten killed. So I’m glad that I left.”

Thomas enrolled in school early, in January 2013. When he arrived in Norman, Oklahoma, Thomas looked around and thought: ‘There’s nothing to do up here. I can’t get myself into trouble.' So I was OK with that.”

Thomas grew up in Miami with his mother, grandmother and aunt. His grandmother, Shirley Thomas, took the lead in raising him. He can still hear her screaming, ‘Ahmad!’ when she wanted him to grab her something.

Shirley Thomas passed away from cancer when Thomas was 13. That is the reason he wears No. 13, to honor her.

“I love my grandma, ” Ahmad Thomas said. “She died when I didn’t even understand what death was, so that was real hard on me.”

He and his mother, Marvice, grew closer after Shirley Thomas died. The women in his life always wanted the best for him, but Ahmad was stubborn and didn’t want to listen to them when they told him to avoid the same trouble they saw so many other youngsters get into. He thought his mother yelled at him too much when she questioned where he was going all the time.

But once he got into high school, he started realizing how the wrong decisions could impact him. It took his high school coaches to hammer that home, since he never had a male figure in his life.

“I had a loving family, ” Ahmad Thomas said. “I had a family that cared about me. They wanted the best for me. I didn’t understand that at the time because of the things I grew up around, and I was kind of sort of programmed to go, 'All right, well, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that because I’ve seen it all my life.' But I had people in my life saying: ‘No, that’s not right. Just because you’ve seen it all your life doesn’t mean you need to do that.' They always told me if I don’t listen, I’m going to learn on my own - and I did learn on my own - but I learned before it was too late because I could have been somewhere else instead of right here talking to you all.”

Thomas was asleep on the day the semifinal matchups were announced. When he woke up, he had 120 text messages, the majority from phone numbers he did not recognize asking for tickets. Thomas shrugs. He is just happy to have the chance to go back home. Though his mother lives in Georgia now, his aunt is still here, along with extended family.

“This is an opportunity to see my family because I rarely come home, ” Thomas said. “Then we can come play, come out with a win and win a national championship. I’ve got a chance to be a part of history. That’s everybody’s dream that ever played football. You just want to be a part of history and do something good.”

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Q&A

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Where is the Home Shopping Outlet in Brandon, FL, address.

Hsn Retail Outlet (813) 654-4192225 W Brandon BlvdBrandon, FL 33511.

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What is the address of a good piercing place in Brandon FL ?

Atomic Tattoos 210 S Kings Ave Brandon, FL 33511 813-654-9990 They offer ear and body piercing in addition to tattoos. !


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