“Where’s my Mom at? Where’s my Momma?”
Amid the raucous celebration at Bryant-Denny Stadium after the LSU Tigers beat the Alabama Crimson Tide, an LSU beat writer captured video of a determined Rashard Lawrence, Tigers senior defensive lineman, calling out for his mother and scanning the crowd intently for her face.
It should come as no surprise, then, how the Week 11 Lott IMPACT Trophy Player of the Week responded when Ronnie Lott asked what he thinks about before taking the field.
“I think about my mother. I want to play hard for her. I want to make her proud,” he said. “She’s been through a lot, so I want to be able to put a smile on her face if nothing else, really.”
Lawrence remembers her shuttling him around town, always being there to listen after a bad practice or test grade, and the way she put her son’s emotions first as she went through a divorce with his father.
A proud parent of four himself, Lott was sure to ask, “Do you get a chance to let her know? I know you get a chance to show her while you’re playing, but do you get a chance to make sure she understands what she means to you?”
“Absolutely,” Lawrence assured him. “We talk everyday. Every time I get a chance to go home – I’m only like three and a half hours away from her – so each time I get a bye week or a chance just to go home I make sure to go see her,” said the Monroe, LA native. “We go out to eat, we just sit down and talk. It’s not always about football, it’s about how she’s doing and everything…we definitely have a special relationship.”
While he plays with his mother in his heart, the lineman commands LSU’s defensive front with the leadership ability he learned as a Tiger — a Neville Tiger, that is.
Lawrence credited Neville High School football head coach Mickey McCarty as the coach who has inspired him the most and molded him into the athlete he is today.
“Anytime I needed to talk to him, I could talk to him about stuff going on with the team, different game plans and things like that, but he was a guy who really taught me how to be a leader,” said the Neville alumnus. “Even in defeat when we lost a game, he always kept his head up and took the higher road. He’s the guy that I got most of my leadership skills from.”
Lott had learned what Lawrence’s mother meant to him, what his high school coach meant to him – but what about the game itself?
“I respect the game,” began Lawrence. “This game has done a lot for me. I’ll never disrespect the game in any way and I take pride in playing hard. A lot of guys – I feel like – take the game for granted, but I always want to make sure that I give the game everything I have because it did so much for me.”
That respect was obvious on the road against the formidable Tide, where the defensive end had his best game of the season with four tackles, a split sack, and two batted passes.
Thoroughly impressed with the student-athlete’s approach to the game, the Hall of Famer had a last bit of advice to hand down that he himself had received from a former football phenom.
“As one guy told me a long time ago – there was a guy Deacon Jones, he was a great defensive end – I was about 15 or 16, he was like, ‘Hey man, be the best. At whatever you do.’ And man, I’m going to encourage you to be the best at whatever you do,” said Lott.
“To know and hear your spirit and how you’ve attacked the game and played, I want to congratulate you,” he added. “And more importantly, that you’ve taken some characteristics from your coaches and applied them to be an even better leader.”
Lawrence will lead the top-ranked Tigers into Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday as they lineup against the Ole Miss Rebels at 4:00 pm PST.
Press play to listen to the full conversation between Ronnie Lott and Rashard Lawrence.