BALTIMORE - He thrilled the crowds as a Dunbar Poet and was a shutdown defensive back for the Hampton Pirates, but 23-year old Courtney Bridget, Jr. wants to make it in the pros for his 3-year-old son, Caiden, and for his parents who supported him at every turn.
"This is not about me at all. What I tell a lot of people is the thing that pushed me and motivated me to continue on is my family and making them proud and just doing right by them because they've done right by me for a long time," Bridget said.
We first met Bridget 12 years ago when the fifth grader was one of renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson's scholarship recipients.
At that time, the 11-year old had spent half of his life overcoming hearing and speech problems.
"That's when they detected that he was like 90 percent deaf in both his [ears],” said his mother Kijana Bridget. “In fact, they said he was hearing like he was under water. So it was kind of like a muffled sound and that's probably why he spoke with his tongue."
Long before schools learned how to recognize and counter bullying, Bridget had to live with it every day.
"Some kids would pick on me, but I didn't know it," he told us back in April of 2002.
Carson said, "The thing about people with disabilities -- Courtney being a specific example -- as long as they have a brain and determination, their handicap is a minor problem, just a hurdle."
Doctors inserted tubes in Courtney's ears and he spent two years in speech therapy. But he never let the cruel comments of other children deter him from his goal of becoming a professional football player.
"I just told him to stay positive, don't worry about others. You know how people may think of you and all, just continue to strive and do what you do," Courtney Bridge, Sr. said.
"It made me stronger,” said the Redskins’ signee. “Looking back at it now, how I overcame it, it let me know that anything is possible."
And because of that adversity he faced as a child, one of the last men added to the Washington Redskins' roster doesn't seem to be phased by the challenge he faces making the team.
"When I was 12, I said that I was going to play football and now I'm 23 and I'm saying I'm going to continue to work and pursue by dream and hopefully 23 years from now, I'm doing an interview with you hopefully being inducted into the Hall of Fame," Bridget said. "That's the goal. Why else would you play the sport if you don't want to be the best at what you do?"
Bridget came out late for the draft, forgoing his final year of eligibility at Hampton, and he says 19 NFL teams expressed an interest in him before he signed with the Redskins where he could be close to home.