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Emotional Ivery thanks Thomson for support

The tears streamed down Eddie Lee Ivery's face at the Brickyard Friday night as he struggled to thank those who helped him along the way. Emotion overtook him during what he considers one of the proudest moments of his life.


Eddie Lee Ivery addresses the Brickyard faithful before Friday's game.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
Prior to the Bulldogs' season opener against Elbert County, Mr. Ivery became only the second football player in Thomson history to have his jersey retired by the school. Both he and punting legend Ray Guy wore number 44 for the Bulldogs.

Just weeks ago when the announcement was made that Mr. Ivery's jersey would be retired, he said that there were no words to describe how honored he was at the prospect. Friday night at a reception in his honor at his cousin Nether Ivery's restaurant, he once again attempted to verbalize what it meant to him.

"There's still no one word to describe the feeling that I'm experiencing now," Mr. Ivery said. "I'm just so grateful that the city of Thomson and the community feels so proud of not only the things that I'm doing for myself but doing for others. Let's just say it's a wonderful feeling."

After graduating from Thomson, Mr. Ivery had a record-breaking college football career for Georgia Tech. He then played for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL and came back from two separate injuries to lead his team in rushing yardage.


Mr. Ivey shows his framed jersey to the crowd.
Photo by Jason B. Smith
But with all the football accolades, Mr. Ivery still considers his time on the field less important than his decision to simply help himself.

After his NFL career ended, he went back and finished college. Then Mr. Ivery fell into drug and alcohol addiction. He didn't come out alone, though.

"All those people that believed in me and all those people that had confidence in me, all that played a part in me dealing with life on life's terms," Mr. Ivery said. "All that helped me to come out of the valley that I was in."

The fact that his problems are now a thing of the past and that he is able to speak with kids candidly about avoiding the same pitfalls he faced, energizes Mr. Ivery. And he said being at the bottom makes times like Friday night even more sweet.

"I don't know who said the quote, but they always say that if a great man falls, it takes a greater man to get up," he said. "I like to think that however low I was, it took that much more of whoever I was to get myself back up on my feet. And I did it by the grace of God and the people that He placed in my life."


Eddie Lee Ivery (left) listens as Thomson Mayor Bob Knox reads the proclimation for Eddie Lee Ivery Day.
Photo by Jason B. Smith


Mr. Ivery accepts his framed jersey from Bulldog Booster Club President Jeff Cowart.
Photo by Jason B. Smith


Mr. Ivery strikes his old football pose prior to the ceremony.
Photo by Jason B. Smith

Web posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01


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