[CORRECTION: This story incorrectly described Jameel McClain as having grown up in Norristown. McClain was raised in North Philadelphia before coming to stay for seven months in the Salvation Army shelter in Norristown. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.]
As the Super Bowl Champions for 2013 reign supreme, they are experience the loss of many players. A mass exodus has been underway during the National Football League's (NFL) free agent open season, and many Ravens may be donning new jerseys come August.
But, the 6-foot-1, 245-pound linebacker, Jameel McClain, will stay put. He's rumored to take the place of Ray Lewis, but his 2012 spinal cord injury had some wondering if he'd take the field again at all.
Raven's number 53 was proud to report that doctors told him his injury was "resolving itself" and likely would not require surgery, as previously supposed, according to reports in USA Today.
McClain said he's no stranger to adversity. The linebacker grew up in North Philadelphia, and spent several months in a Salvation Army shelter in Norristown until an aunt and uncle were able to take he and his family in.
"His mother's sister and her husband discovered their plight and began taking the children into their home in Philadelphia, one by one," said the USA Today report.
According to ESPN, the player is still listed as "questionable" for the coming season, but McClain has reported he will be ready for week one when the new season begins.
In a recent interview with USA Today Sports, McClain and his family explained his background, and how growing up in Norristown and North Philadelphia prepared him to be a hard-working man.
"We were all looking for the whole family," said Gregory Smith to USA Today Sports. Smith is McClain's uncle, who works for the Social Security Administration. "[McClain's mother] was embarrassed and didn't want anybody to know where they were living.
"We just said, 'Let us help you.'"
According to the report, Gregory and Gloria Smith took in Jameel's older twin brothers and older sister, but Jameel stayed with his mother until he was 13.
"Today, he is close with neither his mother nor his father, Ralph McClain, who was in and out of jail for 'most of my life,' McClain said," reports the Sports article. "Gloria Smith said the tough childhood helped him deal with the spinal injury."
"He already knows that nothing is going to come easy, so this is just another thing that he's going to fight for," Gloria told USA Today Sports.
According to NBC Sports, McClain's spine was injured in a December game against the Washington Redskins in 2012. McClain took a hit from running back Alfred Morris, causing a "blow to the neck area that made his body go numb," said the report.
"The prognosis for McClain’s recovery has always been fairly favorable but not having to undergo surgery is another positive step in the process," reports NBC Sports. "McClain will likely be called upon to fill a bigger role for the Ravens with the retirement of Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe leaving in free agency. McClain started 13 games for the Ravens last season before the injury and recorded 79 tackles with three passes defensed."
The local native spends his time now in both Philadelphia and Baltimore. He is in the process of creating his own website here, and is anxious to return to his championship team in 2013.
"It's a horrible feeling to want and can't have," McCain said to USA Today Sports. "But it's not like you want the world. You just want the bare essentials, enough to make your stomach stop rumbling. The only way to avoid the hunger was to go to sleep, crying. There was a bad stint, but it got better. Everything gets better with time."
To read the full interview with McCain and his family, click here.