Several hundred locals turned out in the small Hollywood community of Petersfield to welcome home one of their own, Super Bowl champion Byron Maxwell, on Saturday afternoon.
Joining the favorite son were several close friends and current NFL players, who signed autographs and took pictures for more than two hours. The event was part of a fun-filled activity day in the community.
Maxwell grew up in the small community before moving to North Charleston to play football at Fort Dorchester High School.
Despite missing his senior year of high school with a torn ACL, Maxwell earned a scholarship to Clemson, playing in 53 games. He was drafted in the sixth round by Seattle Seahawks in 2011.
Maxwell earned his chance to become a starter in 2014 when starting corner Brandon Browner was suspended for the season by the NFL. The 6-1, 205-pound Maxwell made the most of his chance, intercepting four passes as part of the league's best secondary.
While his football talent has taken him to great heights and allowed him the opportunity to compete on the world's biggest sports stage, Maxwell, who was sporting his brand new Super Bowl diamond-filled ring, says Petersfield will always be home.
"There's a lot of love here and I always feel a lot of love when I am here," said Maxwell, who turned 26 in February. "It's special to be able to come back here. I grew up here until just before high school and this is home for me. A lot of my family is here and my roots are here.
"It's crazy to see all of this for me. I have been very fortunate to be able to chase my dreams from right here in this community. "
Joining Maxwell in the festivities were former Clemson teammates Ricky Sapp (Houston Texans), DeQuan Bowers (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Jarvis Jenkins (Washington Redskins), as well as current teammate Phillip Adams, a Rock Hill native and former South Carolina State football player who signed with Seattle in March.
For Sapp, who along with Bowers grew up in the small community of Bamberg, getting the chance to help Maxwell celebrate his day was something he could not pass up.
"I know what it means to grow up in a small town and I think being able to do these types of things at home are great for the kids and the families," says Sapp. "Byron and I went to Clemson together and we basically grew to be men together while in school. We are close friends and I am so happy to see him have success. He's got that (Super Bowl) ring now so he's a step ahead of the rest of us."
Maxwell's mother, Elaine, began helping to plan this day soon after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in February. She was overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the support of the community.
"We all love each other and the people here love Byron," she said. "I'm just elated. Words cannot express my appreciation. We all are so proud of him. It has truly been a blessing for our family. Byron has a strong will. He has been through a lot over the years, with the knee injury in high school and all. He learned that will and fight from his friends and family right here."
Adams, like Maxwell, is a cornerback, and also was happy to share in Maxwell's big day.
"It's huge anytime you can give back and show your love for those who helped you get where you are, and I was eager and happy to help Byron do this," said Adams. "It's a fun day for him and for all the people here. Everyone is coming together for a good cause and having a lot of fun doing it."
Maxwell says getting even just one day to share his story and to motivate the youth in his community is something he felt he needed to take advantage of. His message to young kids from his community is to "never let anyone tell you that dreams cannot come true. If you want something bad enough, work hard to attain it.
"It's tangible, you can touch it and whatever dream you have, go for it," said Maxwell. "I tell these kids, 'I'm you.' If I can do it, you can do it.
"I'm blessed to have had the opportunities and I cherish this every day. Being able to play college football and then professional football, it's a dream we all have as kids. I am so grateful for the chance. Being in the Super Bowl was an unreal experience. I was in the right place at the right time. It takes hard work, but you need some luck too. I guess I have been very lucky."