UW-Whitewater sports star's new life fuels Warhawks
'Hawks basketball player turns to football
Chris Davis has done it all at UW-Whitewater. He's a former D3 National Player Of The Year and 2012 D3 Basketball National Champion. Now Davis is trying to help the Warhawks football team to a national championship of their own. As a backup tight end, he's more mentor than star.
"He's like a father to us, it's awesome," a teammate said.
At 25 years old on a college campus, Davis is more senior citizen than senior class.
"I've been around for so long, that's why they call me Old Man," Davis said.
But to truly appreciate Davis today, you have to understand his journey.
"I get ashamed sometimes of where I've been," he said. "It's a good story, but I wish I didn't have to tell this story."
This story goes back to Davis' childhood.
His father was in jail for 10 years. His mom worked two jobs. Trouble always seemed to find Davis.
"I was a knucklehead," Davis said. "Always getting in trouble, getting suspended. I smoked weed in high school and that really messed with my mind."
As a sophomore at Madison East, Davis dropped out of school. When he returned a year and a half later, he made the honor roll. He also made All-Big 8 in basketball and football.
"I didn't want to be a statistic," Davis explained. "I didn't want to end up in jail, or dead, or for something bad to happen to me. I wanted to stand up and say 'Here I am, I'm a better person.'"
A week before graduation, Davis became a father.
"When you have a child, you're their role model," Davis said. "What's he going to do if he sees me doing bad things? I knew I couldn't do that. I had to become a good father. I had to show him right and wrong, and I wanted to make sure he didn't go down the same path I went down."
For Davis, maturity was a process. As a sophomore playing basketball at MATC, He was kicked off the team for fighting with a teammate.
"That was my strike two. I never got a strike three," Davis said.
After a year away from school and basketball, Davis got a call from Whitewater Basketball coach Pat Miller, who recruited him in high school.
"After talking with Chris, it was clear he had an agenda for what he wanted to do academically and what he wanted to accomplish in basketball," Miller said. "I think having his son played a big factor in his maturation. After looking at the whole situation, I decided it was worth the risk."
Davis said Miller's guidance helped him in his journey.
"Every athlete needs someone to push them," Davis said. "He was definitely that person who pushed me to get in the weight room, to get in better shape, and to work on things I needed to work on. It helped."
It helped him become not just a star, but a leader. But all the wins and all the accolades pale in comparison to giving his son, little Chris, the childhood he never had.
"He's a good kid. I couldn't ask for anything else," the proud father said. "He doesn't swear, he's polite, and he loves basketball just like his dad. I couldn't ask for much else."
Miller added: "For Chris, it's a great story, because it could have been a very different story. There were people around Chris and supported him to make it a great story."
Ask Davis what he'd like his ultimate message to be, and it's simple: never lose hope.
"There aren't a lot of people that would reach out and give attention to a kid who's in trouble like I was. I want them to know that most kids that are in trouble still can have a future. I'm a living testament of that."
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