REL Grad Black Returns To His Roots
By HAROLD WILSON
After carving passing and running lanes for national-champion LSU during its title run, Ciron Black imparted his roadmap for success to Tyler youths.
Taking advantage of Spring Break, Black toured his hometown thoroughly on Thursday, appearing at three different Boys and Girls Clubs of East Texas locations. The Black caravan made its final stop at the recently-built center on West 32nd Street in North Tyler, where more than 100 kids gathered to listen to the former Robert E. Lee standout offensive lineman speak.
Black stressed how learning to be attentive and working hard, even at a younger age, affords them a better opportunity when they get older.
"If I can convince one kid to listen to their parents, pay attention in class and not just be good in sports but in academics, then it'll be successful," Black said of his goal on his way to the gymnasium where a growing audience awaited his arrival.
"Discipline is the biggest thing. If you're disciplined from Pop Warner to middle school to college, that carries over to the workforce. If you want to provide for your family and live a good life you have to have discipline."
Less than four years after helping Lee win its first-ever state championship in 2004, the 6-5, 314-pounder reached the pinnacle again. Starting all 14 games at left tackle and earning All-SEC Second Team honors, Black played an integral role as LSU rolled to the BCS game, where the Tigers took down top-ranked Ohio State at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
As a freshman, Black appeared in all 13 games and recorded 81 knockdowns, 39 pancake blocks and played the most snaps of any LSU lineman (739) as he received All-SEC Freshman Team and Sporting News Freshman All-American Third Team status.
"It's unbelievable," said Black, who is in the middle of spring football season, which for the Tigers resumes on March 26 and concludes April 5 with the annual spring game. "It's just now starting to hit me. All the work we put in all year, playing in the big game and everyone watching.
"The bar is set; we raised it. We've been working in the spring (on trying to repeat). We just have to go and do it."
On Tuesday, all eyes focused on Black, who addressed the crowd playfully, yet seriously.
"I didn't realize the effect of parents and teachers when I was younger," said Black before pausing on occasion to ask personal questions and even take roll counts for the cheerleaders and football players in attendance. "The main goal is to get an education. If you want to succeed, you have to pass. ... (from) the TAKS to the SAT test. If you don't get your academics, you won't be able to play."
The day after LSU toppled top-ranked Ohio State, Black returned to Tyler to watch a Lee basketball game. He admitted to feeling a responsibility to show love to the place that gave him the tools necessary to succeed.
"I'm home grown; been in Tyler my whole life," said Black, the son of Ronnie and Sandra Black who is majoring in business." You can never forget your family, where you come from and the people that got you there."
In his opinion, getting "there" remains well within reach for those willing to buckle down and tug away at it.
"It's determination," said Black, who also visited Boys And Girls Clubs at Rice and Bell Elementaries earlier in the day. "There's so much you have to put in it. So many people my age lounge around and play. A lot (of that) I can't do. But it's worth it. If you want to do it, it's within your grasp. You just have to go out and grab it."