From Streets to Cleats: Once Homeless, Jerimiah Spicer Chasing Improbable NFL Dream

From an early age, linebacker Jeremiah Spicer was overlooked, even by his mother.

Addicted to cocaine, his mother threw Spicer’s brother Darryl under a bus tire and her friends threw baby Spicer into a trash. He was left there.

He does not recall how he was finally salvaged, only the horror he felt.

I don’t remember [who took me out of the trash],” Spicer said. “I just remember crying.”

His mother never provided him shoes and he was forced to walk the streets of California barefoot until his feet started to bleed.

Leaving his mother to live with his grandmother, he had to fight most of his life just to put food in his mouth.

“My grandmother used to get food but she would give it to my sister,” Spicer said. “Because she was a girl and she told [my brother and I] that since we were boys, we had to get it ourselves.”

Spicer grew up on Skid Row in Los Angeles, considered the homeless capital of America. At times to feed himself, Spicer took to the streets and ran with a gang. His dusty clothing and 10-dollar shoes drew unwanted attention toward him and his brother in public and even in church.

“We had no name brand clothes and everybody would just talk about us,” Spicer said. “I was the dustiest dude in the hood.”

Spicer began his football career in pop warner and attended Riverside City College. Under the tutelage of coach Tom Craft, he played both special teams and linebacker. Spicer then left Riverside to join   Non-profit Developmental football team called the SoCal Coyotes. From there, he went to Bethesda College. Spicer, however, chose not to play at there after the coach had left and returned to the SoCal Coyotes for another season.

Spicer caught his first break with the Cape Fear Heroes of the American Arena League based in North Carolina and lead the league in tackles earning a sport on the American Arena League All-Star Team.

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Spicer (right) with the Cape Fear Heroes. Photo: Jerimiah Spicer

His work with the Heroes earned him an opportunity to try out for the Cleveland Browns in Cypress, Texas where he was evaluated by Alonzo Highsmith Jr., the team’s vice president of player personnel.

“It was a great experience and I was just happy to be there,” Spicer said about the Cleveland tryout. “It was like 60 guys, mainly wide receivers and defensive backs and they had us do the 40-yard dash, and individual linebacker drills.”

After the tryout, Highsmith told Spicer that he would give him a call, but his phone never rang. Spicer though discouraged, tried to see the bright side out of the entire situation.

“It was embarrassing I went to Texas for nothing,” Spicer said. “But it was really something because it went on my resume.”

Not long after, Spicer got acquainted with Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary. He gave Spicer a call to play for his team the Memphis Express in the Alliance of America Football League. Before that came to fruition, the team folded.

There was, however, a silver lining as Spicer got a call from the Los Angeles Chargers head coach to try out for the team. Through the Chargers, he got close with head coach Anthony Lynn.

A journey from the streets culminating in an opportunity to tryout in front of the team’s head coach who continues to speak with Spicer. According to the linebacker, Lynn has put him on the team’s possible list of linebackers to sign after the draft.

“He’s amazing,” Spicer said about Lynn. “It’s been a dream come true.”

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Spicer (right) during Chargers tryout. Photo: Jerimiah Spicer

If he were to be signed by the Chargers, Spicer would use the money to start a business and be motivational speaker spreading his message of hope to kids going through the same circumstances.

“Never give up and when you think you’re so far you’re really so close,” Spicer said. “Change you’re angle at how you look at life and turn the negative into a positive and use it to give you strength to take you’re next step in life.”


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