A Look Back: Perseverance And Determination Defines Life And Career Of Ward

SPORTS ACTION-second place. Dan Powers, The Post-Cresscent. Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward jumps in the air and scores a 43- yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El during Super Bowl XL. lbpfb
SPORTS ACTION-second place. Dan Powers, The Post-Cresscent. Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward jumps in the air and scores a 43- yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Antwaan Randle El during Super Bowl XL.
lbpfb “Super Bowl MVP”

Hines Ward is by far the best Wide Receiver in Pittsburgh Steelers history, a 2 time Super Bowl Champion and MVP of Super Bowl XL. He has far surpassed everyone’s expectations when he was the Steelers 3rd round pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. Throughout his career, Hines has been the kind of player who has succeeded because of the amount of work and film study he has put in plus his willingness to do whatever has been asked of him by his coaches. Now, as Hines is nearing the end of what is sure to be a Hall of Fame career, it’s important to know what has driven and motivated Hines to accomplish what he has and why he is such a ferocious competitor.

Hines E. Ward Jr was born March 8, 1976 in seoul, South Korea. His mother, Kim Young He, was a Korean native who came to this country, speaking very little to no English, after marrying Hines E. Ward Sr, an African-American service member and giving birth to his child. The Ward family settled down just outside of Atlanta, in East Point, Ga and when Hines was 1 year old, his dad went to Germany for a tour of duty and abandoned them, leaving them to fend for themselves. His mother, speaking very little English, was determined to make a life for her and Hines, so she took on two jobs and worked tirelessly to make it happen.

As Hines got older, he started facing racial discrimination at school and wasn’t accepted by either the Asian or African-American kids because of his bi-racial heritage. Soon, he became ashamed of his mom and his heritage while hoping the hurtful comments would stop. He quickly became ashamed of the feelings he harbored towards his mother as he realized just how hard she was working for him. It was when Hines Ward found success on the football field for Forest Park High School that he finally found acceptance from those who previously taunted and ridiculed him. After earning All-American and All-State honors with 3,581 yards passing and 38 td passes in addition to his 2,500 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, Hines received a full scholarship to the University of Georgia. Before he left for Athens, he promised his mother that one day he would make sure she would never have to work again because of all that she went through for him.

During his NCAA career, he showed his versatility by starting at Wide Receiver, Running Back and Quarterback for the Bulldogs. He finshed up at Georgia 2nd in career receptions with 144, 3rd in yards with 1,965 and 2nd in all-purpose yards, behind only Herschel walker, racking up 3,870 of them. Hines was getting closer than ever to his dream of being able to take care of his mother for the rest of her life when he was informed that he was going to be selected in the 1998 NFL draft at some point. 

Most NFL GM’s agreed that Hines had first or second round talent, but the Biggest questions for NFL teams was, what position would be the best fit for him at the NFL level and perhaps the more serious issue, he lacked an ACL in his left knee, due to a bicycle accident as a child. As the Draft approached the team that showed the strongest interest in him was his hometown Atlanta Falcons, whose scouts were in attendance at the 1995 Peach Bowl where Hines threw for 413 yards and almost led Georgia to an upset of Virginia. The Falcons indicated to Hines, after they made their 2nd round pick, that he was going to be their next choice if he was still available. It was either fate that intervened or it was “The Chief” Art Rooney, because for some inexplicable reason the Falcons chose Jammi German out of Miami. This cleared the way for Ward to become a Pittsburgh Steelers draft pick. 

When Hines signed his first pro contract, he kept the promise he made to his mother and made sure she never had to work again. Growing up, Hines wittnesed how hard his mother worked and how she Persevered despite speaking no English and having no family to turn to for help. Seeing the sacrifices Kim Young He made inspired and made Hines the player he is today because he plays as hard on the field as hard as his mother worked to make a life for him, and like her, Hines does it with a smile and without complaints.

Currently Hines ranks #8 all-time with 980 career receptions and 19th all-time with 11,960 career yards and is tied for 13th all-time with 85 touchdown receptions. What makes these numbers all the more impressive than they ordinarily would be, is that for the first 7 years of his career he played in a run heavy offense. The Steelers also placed more value in Troy Edwards and Plaxico Burress, the Steelers #1 Draft picks in 1999 and 2000, than they did in Hines, but Hines has outlasted that and every other challenge in his life and has risen above them. With Hines, it always has been and always will be about Perseverance and determination.

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