When the No. 2 ranked Ohio State take on the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, all eyes will be on the Buckeyes’ star running back, J.K. Dobbins, and no one will be cheering louder at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 28, than his mother, Maya Grounds.
Dobbins, along with Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Justin Fields, is having a wildly successful 2019 season. After celebrating his 21st birthday earlier this month, the 5’10, 217-pound running back, who has racked up 1,829 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season, and is looking to help Ohio State beat Clemson, who’s largely favored to win the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.
While it’s hard to believe now, since Grounds’ social media is filled with pictures of her family sporting Ohio State gear, and she regularly attends her son’s games, Dobbins’ mom was iffy at best for him to attend Ohio State after he was recruited by offensive Coach Tony Alford. But it wasn’t too long before the Buckeyes team and Alford won over her heart.
Talking to Letterman Now she said, “I remember telling Coach [Tony] Alford that once this process was over with, I probably won’t even see him anymore. He was like: ‘It’s not going to be like that.’…. Him and Coach Alford were always talking on the phone before he left for Ohio State, I mean, they kind of had a bond before he stepped on campus. I think that’s why I felt secure because I could see how J.K. felt about him… It has worked out better than I could have imagined. I can definitely say that Coach Alford kept his promise.”
Mya Grounds Made Sure Dobbins’ Football Career Didn’t Follow The Path Of His Father, Who Died In Prison At Age 33
It was clear early on that Dobbins was an extremely special football player while attending La Grange High School in Texas. Even though an injury kept him off the field most of his senior year, he was highly recruited with 25 offers from teams such as Alabama, Oklahoma, and USC after tallying 5,215 yards and 74 touchdowns, and named U.S. Army All-American.
Grounds, who worked to earn her finance degree at University of Houston told Cleveland.com, “I said that if you want to pursue this football dream, you have to work at it all the time and it’ll eventually pay off. He listens to me. I say stuff and don’t think he’s listening to me, but he is.”
Dobbins’ mother, however, couldn’t get through to her son’s father, Lawrence Dobbins, also a star running back at La Grange High School. Lawrence earned admission to Lincoln University in Philadelphia as a track & field athlete, but didn’t feel as passionate about the sport as he did for football, and dropped out college before his senior year.
Even though they never married, Dobbins’ father headed to Texas, where Dobbins’ mother was taking classes at Blinn College at the time, and briefly played as a walk-on for their football team. Not happy not being a starter, Lawrence soon quit.
Grounds said, “That was the worst thing for him, quitting the football program and not following through. After football didn’t work, life was kind of over for him. That’s one of the lessons that J.K. learned from his dad, be patient and wait your turn. That’s some of things I preach to J.K. ‘You’re going to Ohio State. Everyone at Ohio State is damn near a five-star player, so you have to compete if you want to start and sometimes you just have to wait your turn.'”
Unable to hold a steady job, Lawrence got involved with the wrong kind of people. In 2012, he was convicted for theft of property and sentenced to two years in state prison. While incarcerated at Bartlett State Prison, Lawrence suffered a stroke and died on February 13, 2014. Dobbins was only 14 years old.
Prior to his death, Dobbins and his father were incredibly close. “He’s the reason I love football,” Dobbins said. “My dad taught me a lot of things through actions and through words. Seeing what he was doing, and the trouble he got in, I didn’t want to be like that and he told me he didn’t want me to be like that. So that’s how I see it. I didn’t want to go to there.”
Dobbins’ Mother Became The Unofficial Pro-Life Hero After Fox Announcer Gus Johnson Shared Her Near-Abortion Story On-Air
During the Buckeyes’ epic 56-27 win over the Michigan Wolverines, after Dobbins scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Fox analyst Gus Johnson announced, “J.K. Dobbins’ mom, Mya, became pregnant when she was 18 years old. She went to the doctor because she was thinking about aborting the baby, but changed her mind. That baby turned out to be that young man, J.K. Dobbins.”
Afterward, Christian news outlets, pro-life Twitter accounts such as March For Life, and republican Senator Rick Scott propped her up as their new unofficial hero. Dobbins has yet to publicly comment on the far-right media attention.