Derek Stingley Jr's grandfather played in the NFL and was paralyzed during a game.
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images (left), Photo by Rich Pilling/Diamond Images via Getty Images (right)

Derek Stingley Jr.'s Family Tragedy Inspires Him Every Time He Plays


There might not have been a better freshman season in LSU history than the one Derek Stingley Jr. constructed in 2019.

Just take a look at the long list of awards and accomplishments he garnered:

  • 2019 Consensus All-American
  • 2019 First-Team All-American (AFCA, AP, Athletic, CBS, ESPN, SI, Sporting News, USA Today)
  • 2019 SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP, unanimous)
  • 2019 First Team All-SEC (AP)
  • 2019 Second Team All-SEC (Coaches)
  • 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team

Stingley's remarkable first season was somehow overshadowed because Joe Burrow was busy lighting up college football teams en route to a national championship and an FBS-record 65 total touchdowns in the best quarterbacking season in history. Still, Stingley had firmly cemented himself as "the next Patrick Peterson," though Patrick's name is interchangeable with any of the great defensive backs to have come through Baton Rouge.

Then, he disappeared because of injuries.


That hasn't stopped Stingley from climbing to the top of draft boards. When the 2022 NFL Draft rolls around, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Stingley become LSU's highest-drafted defensive back since Peterson was taken fifth overall in 2011.

Derek Stingley Jr.'s LSU Career

Derek Stingley Jr. warms up prior to a game against the Central Michigan in 2021.

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Related: 5 Reasons LSU is 'Defensive Back University' and No Other Team is Close

Stingley Jr. was as lockdown as lockdown gets for a corner.

After coming to LSU as one of the highest-rated high school recruits in Louisiana history, he promptly started all 15 games at cornerback. All he did in those games was nab six interceptions, which led the SEC and ranked fifth nationally. He also totaled 21 passes defended, which ranked second in the nation. Not bad for a true freshman.


It doesn't hurt that Stingley was squaring off against the best of the best in practice. He was routinely tasked with blanketing Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson.

It wasn't just man coverage where Stingley excelled at. He showed he could use that 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and tackle in open space. He registered 38 tackles and a tackle for a loss as a freshman.

This tackle and forced fumble against Central Michigan in 2021 is further evidence of that:


Stingley failed to live up to his freshman hype as a sophomore and junior because of injuries, playing in just 10 games and recording zero interceptions over the last two seasons.

Still, Derek Stingley Jr. has all the talent in the world to be a difference-maker in the NFL. He can thank his family for inheriting much of it.

Derek Stingley Jr. & the NFL Draft 

Derek Stingley Jr. answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combine on March 5, 2022.

Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stingley is still considered one of the top cornerbacks in this year's draft.


After undergoing surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his left foot last September, he didn't go through any drills in the NFL Scouting Combine. However, at the LSU Pro Day this April, he reportedly ran the 40-yard dash as low as 4.37, recorded a vertical leap of 38.5 inches and looked great in position drills.

According to ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid, he has the talent to be a top-five corner in the NFL.

"Stingley has squeaky clean technique as a man corner but is also savvy with his eyes and instincts in zone coverage. The ability isn't the knock with him. It's his availability," Reid said, referring to his injuries.


NFL Network has Stingley Jr. being drafted ninth overall in mock drafts, while CBS Sports has him going 12th to the Minnesota Vikings. Walter Football has him at seventh overall to the New York Giants.

Regardless of where he's drafted, Derek Stingley Jr. will in all likelihood be a first-round pick and is in line for a big paycheck, which I'm sure he'll use to help out his family.

Stingley Comes From an Athletic Family

Darryl Stingley talks near the Patriot's sidelines during Super Bowl XX against the Chicago Bears at the Superdome on January 26, 1986.

Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images

Stingley Jr. still has a ways to go if he wants to become the most athletic person in the family.

His father, Derek Stingley, was a multi-sport athlete who recorded 19 interceptions across eight seasons as a defensive back in the Arena Football League. While at Triton College, he also played college baseball and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies as a centerfielder in the 1993 MLB Draft, the same one Alex Rodriguez was selected first overall. He spent a few seasons in the minor league system.


The Darryl Stingley Tragedy

Stingley Jr.'s grandfather, Darryl Stingley, was famously known as the player Jack "The Assassin" Tatum paralyzed during an NFL preseason game in 1978. Darryl was playing wide receiver for the New England Patriots when the Raiders safety delivered a massive hit on him.

Tatum and Stingley reportedly never made amends. The former Raiders safety contacted Stingley many times but did so while promoting his autobiography, which was insensitively titled "Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum."

"I think that over a 14-year period I've been across the country, out of the country, in the country, I've talked with John Madden who was Tatum's coach. He calls me on a regular basis. He called me to invite me to the Super Bowl this year," Stingley told Jet magazine in 1992. "All these people have been able to contact me and he's never really tried."


In fact, Tatum later told ABC that "I'm sorry he got hurt, but I will never apologize for the way I play football."

Derek Jr. barely knew his grandpa. He was 7 when he died in 2007 after living the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.

Still, he told The Daily Advertiser that he plays for his grandfather.

"I'm just continuing on the Stingley name," he said. "And every time I go on the field, I always think about him. And I think about my dad and all of my family."


As Stingley enters the next phase of his football career, he plays for his family. His parents, Derek and Natasha Stingley; his siblings, Isis, Nahjha and Sanaa. And especially his grandfather.

MORE: What Happened to JaMarcus Russell and Where is the Former NFL QB Now?

Related Videos