An unlikely journey: Tracy White started out in St. Stephen and ended up at the Super Bowl

Tracy White

During Super Bowl media day this week, Tracy White was interviewed by somebody named "Pick Boy", a character on the kids' TV network Nicktoons.

"It's my first time," White said of the wild scene at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. "It's kind of crazy."

Crazy is one word to describe the NFL career of White, a nine-year veteran who has played for five different teams. Despite making the playoffs in seven of his nine seasons, White will make his Super Bowl debut on Sunday when the Patriots face the New York Giants.

Not bad for a kid who grew up in St. Stephen, starred in football and wrestling at Timberland High School and nearly joined the Army before his one scholarship offer -- from Howard University -- came through.

Despite a standout career at Howard, an FCS school in Washington, D.C., White was an undrafted free agent when he signed with the Seahawks in 2003.

The 6-0, 230-pound linebacker has been proving himself ever since.

"I've been pretty fortunate, really fortunate, since my career began to be playing on teams like this," White said earlier this season. "I do my best to help them with where we need to go."

White played for Seattle, Jacksonville, Green Bay and Philadelphia before the Patriots traded

for him in September 2010. This season, injuries to starting linebackers have given White more snaps on defense, and he has made 37 tackles, two short of his career high.

Throughout his career, White has earned a reputation as a solid citizen and positive influence in the locker room.

"There's no slacking off and there's only one goal -- to get to the Super Bowl," he said. "Every team has that goal to get there, but the rest of the teams ... the key is getting everyone to buy into it."

With little football recruiting attention coming his way at Timberland, White considered joining the U.S. Army after high school. When an Army recruiter called the house one day, White's mom, Patricia, answered the phone and was surprised to hear of his plans.

"She was shocked," White said in 2004. "I was actually going to go up there and sign up later that week on Saturday. I didn't tell her anything about it. I had a brother already in the Army. She told me to wait and finish my senior year at Timberland before I signed up and made any definite plans."

Good advice, because a scholarship offer from Howard came through after his senior year. There, White was a three-time all-MEAC selection and named the Black College Defensive Player of the Year in 2001.

White hasn't forgotten about the folks back home. Through his career, he's worked on building a "Hope Center" in St. Stephen, a place for kids to swim and play football and basketball.

On the field, White has been slowed recently by an abdominal injury, but that won't dampen the enthusiasm of his family on Sunday. White's mom and sister, Akia, made the trek from Summerville to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

His father, Emmanuel, is legally blind due to a brain tumor he suffered 20 years ago, and couldn't make the trip. Father and son love to play cards and talk about football.

On Tracy's next trip home, they will have plenty to talk about.

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