Najee Harris's outlook is informed by his past. A rough childhood gave rise to an optimistic American football star with a huge heart. Harris lived through physical, emotional, and drug abuse with his nomadic family. He could be bitter about his unstable upbringing, but Najee Harris chooses to go the other way.
The superstar football player was an ESPN-rated five-star recruit out of high school. He verbally committed to Alabama when he was just a high school sophomore; way earlier than most. The spotlight has been on Harris for years now, and he hasn't missed a beat.
The running back has long made scoring touchdowns look easy at every level of play. With the 2021 NFL Draft around the corner, fans are clamoring to get their foam fingers on the power runner from Antioch.
But if they want Najee, they're going to have to meet Tianna, first.
Najee Harris' Early Life & Family
Najee Harris's adolescence was tumultuous at best.
Harris's mother Tianna Hicks suffered abuse from Harris' father Curt. The young family of seven moved back and forth between Seattle and Northern California, in and out of homelessness. They eventually settled in the San Francisco Bay Area near Antioch High School.
Najee's once-in-a-generation combination of size, speed, physicality, mental strength, and competitive spirit gained him early national attention. He wouldn't graduate high school until 2017, but he verbally committed to Alabama in 2015. Some flip-flopping followed over the next two seasons.
Can you blame the guy? He was offered scholarships from the best college football programs, from Cal to Texas to Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines. Harris was real close to joining ole Jim in the Big Ten, but signed with head coach Nick Saban after the Army All-American Bowl.
With his high school career in the rearview, Harris packed his bags, grabbed his mother, and put California behind him. Harris was on his way to Saban Country, a.k.a. Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Najee Harris at Alabama
Alabama is known as "Running Back U" in recent years, and you can't expect a scrawny freshman to start. The Alabama Crimson Tide knows how to run a football program, Nick Saban knows how to build teams, and Najee Harris knows how to earn his keep.
Harris made an impact during his freshman year and ran over 60 yards against Georgia in the National Championship Game. That was just his first college football postseason. He won another national championship his senior year after jumping over Notre Dame and running through Ohio State.
He finished fifth in Heisman voting but number one in the hearts of Alabama fans everywhere.
A four-year Saban running back with skill, power, and two CFP National Championships? If you listen closely, you can hear your local NFL head coach salivating.
2021 NFL Draft Outlook
The jump from the NCAA to the NFL is only for the strong. Najee Harris appears plenty fit for the leap.
Off the field, Harris remains tight with his mother and siblings. Chances are, his mother will be moving soon, depending on where her youngest son lands. Najee and his father Curt barely speak today. Najee is way past those days of abuse. He's looking ahead to a better life in the NFL.
He's the No. 1 running back on most boards and is prayed for in sports bars from Pittsburgh to Atlanta. He draws comparisons to former Alabama power running backs like Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram. But Harris wants to go his own way. Finding a kindred spirit is a start.
Harris recently signed with kindred-spirit and Bay Area-native Marshawn Lynch's BEAST MODE marketing agency.
Harris has his eyes on the future and making sure his family won't live as they did in the past.
After four years in Saban Country, Najee Harris's outlook is pretty bright.
Enjoy all things sports?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.