When the Denver Broncos clash with the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday in a gridiron battle for the coveted Super Bowl, the GTA will be well represented.
Broncos tackle Orlando Franklin, who was raised in Scarborough, will be tasked with defending star quarterback Peyton Manning.
Standing six-foot-six and weighing in at a muscle-bound 330 pounds, Franklin, 26, has proven himself more than capable in football’s bone-crunching trenches.
But it didn’t always look like he would fulfill his potential.
As a teen, Franklin, who was born in Jamaica and moved to Toronto at the age of three, didn’t dream of football glory and the huge salaries that follow.
As he told CityNews’ Avery Haines last February, his twisted ambition during those troubled years was to go to jail.
“I was thinking, ‘I can’t wait (to go to jail for the) first time,’” he admitted. “I stole cars. I stole peoples’ purses. I got arrested twice before the age of 16.”
But the love of his mother and his love of football eventually turned the tide.
“I knew I had potential. I knew I was a gifted athlete but all my life in school people were telling me that I wasn’t going to be anything, and I wasn’t going to make it.”
After his second arrest, his mother sat him down for a heart-to-heart and asked him what he wanted to do with his life.
He told her he felt football was his best chance, but said he didn’t think he could make it living in Toronto.
A week-and-a-half later his mother quit her job and they moved to Florida where Franklin started playing for a community high school in Delray Beach.
“I got down there and I just made sacrifices because my mom made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
The hard work paid off and he received a scholarship to the University of Miami. In 2011 he was drafted by the Broncos and signed a four-year, $4.35 million US contract. He’s been a starter even since.
“The greatest revenge is success,” Franklin told CityNews.
“You can achieve anything you want in life through hard-work and sacrifice.”
With files from Avery Haines