From BHS to the NFL and back home again
Prior to Friday night, Leroy Hill was a wide-eyed teenager the last time he'd stepped on the Baldwin High football field.
This time around, he was a family man, his 40th birthday last month. Hill was joined by roughly two dozen family members, including his wife and two children, as the school officially retired his No. 48 jersey during halftime of the Braves game against Perry.
Hill was an all-state linebacker in 2001 before signing with Clemson, where he went on to become one of the school's all-time leading tacklers. He then was drafted with the 98th pick of the NFL draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He started eight seasons for Seattle and remains one of three Milledgeville men ever to play in a Super Bowl – Earnest Byner and Nick Harper being the other two.
Growing up way out near the Baldwin/Jones County line as one of the "Highway 49 Hills," Leroy discussed how growing up in the country helped mold him into who he is today.
"Yeah, my daddy put to work every single day. I had to cut acres," Hill mused. "It built something in me and set a standard, and I was able to follow that standard and take it a long way."
Hill gave a heartfelt and inspiring speech, thanking God, his family and everyone in the Baldwin County community who helped him grow. He closed with a message to the youth of Millededgeville.
"To the kids out there, you have a dream, and you have a comfort zone. The dream's gonna come with some hard work, some consistency and some dedication. The comfort will very rarely get you anywhere that you want to be. Choose wisely!" he said.
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