Third-year Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell is making the most of his opportunity in the NFL.
And now his family and friends are reaping the rewards as they head to the Big Apple to watch the former Fort Dorchester High School star play in Sunday's Super Bowl.
Maxwell's parents, Nate Maxwell and Elaine Brown, left Friday for New York along with family members and friends who hope to celebrate with him after the game. Others, including his high school coach Steve LaPrad, plan to watch the game from home.
"I'm really proud of Byron, very excited. He really worked hard for this. You couldn't ask for a better kid," Nate Maxwell said. "I'm going with some of my brothers and sisters. They're not all going to be able to go to the Super Bowl, but they'll be in New York."
Maxwell was drafted out of Clemson in the sixth round in 2011. He moved into the Seahawks' starting lineup this year with five games left in the regular season after teammate Walter Thurmond was suspended.
Maxwell responded with four interceptions, matching the total interceptions he had during his Clemson career.
Colorful Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said in an article for Sports Illustrated that Maxwell is "one of the many reasons I believe we'll not only survive, but also dominate on our way to the Super Bowl."
This will be the third game Nate Maxwell has attended this season.
He watched the Seahawks' opener in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers and traveled to Seattle for the NFC Championship victory over San Francisco.
"I talked about going to the divisional championship but decided I was going to wait. I thought our guys would win," he said. "I'm glad I did. It was an exciting game, a great game. The crowd, the 12th Man, is all they say. It's loud and I was right there with them."
LaPrad, who has three former players in the NFL (the others are St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap), said he plans to watch the Super Bowl from the comfort of his home.
"He's one of those guys, if you give him a chance he works. He did that in Seattle. It couldn't happen to a better guy," LaPrad said of Maxwell.
Byron's journey to the Super Bowl has been filled with ups and downs. The North Charleston native began to receive attention from colleges as early as his sophomore season and plenty of high-profile programs courted him as a junior. But he suffered a knee injury (torn ACL) in a pickup basketball game and was unable to play his senior season.
"That was a disaster for us. It probably cost us a couple of ballgames because he did everything for us," LaPrad said.
Clemson honored its scholarship commitment and Maxwell had a solid, although not spectacular, career with the Tigers. Among his four career interceptions was one against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who played at N.C. State.
"He had a pretty good career at Clemson but he always felt like he could do more," Nate Maxwell said. "I think he went to the right system (with Seattle). They play a lot of press man coverage and that suited him very well."
Nate Maxwell said he's not worried about the weather forecast Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., but he noted that cold temperatures could "work out in Seattle's favor."
And a Seahawks' victory would make for a warm celebration for the North Charleston contingency.