PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - How does a South Carolina football Hall of Famer find find his way to Portland?
Marcus Lattimore, the new assistant coach at Lewis & Clark College, says he developed a love for the Pacific Northwest during his time with the San Francisco 49ers.
Playing football isn't forever, but the lessons learned between the lines never fade. Lattimore will always be the 2010 South Eastern Conference Freshman of the Year, but the running back's path is now rolling with the Pioneers at Lewis & Clark.
“We were hoping that things would work out, but my knee just was not responding the way that I would have wanted it to, and I knew that I could do something else with my life, so I just shut it down,” Lattimore said.
When one professional football door slams, another cracks open—but it forces a deep look in the mirror.
“Well, Nick I neglected that part of my life for a long time," Lattimore said.
South Carolina Gamecock Hall of Fame running back and a former 49er fourth round pick, Lattimore took a long time to come around to the reality of the situation.
“I tried to pretend as if it didn’t bother me, and that was the first process of being able to admit to myself that that did hurt," Lattimore said. "I put on this front and facade that everything was okay, but it hurt like hell that I didn’t get an opportunity to play because I had these goals, these dreams.”
Tearing every ligament in his right knee junior year at SC derailed Lattimore's days in the game, followed by hours of therapy and self-reflection for his post-playing career.
“I call it the transitory gauntlet," Lattimore said. "From seven years old to 23 years old, I did one thing and one thing only, and the emphasis on football in the south, especially in a state like South Carolina, where there is no pro team? You become a celebrity at age 15.”
Learning how to read and write at a later age, Lattimore is a self-made man who landed with his wife in Portland this May. But his two years with the 49ers made the southern kid develop a taste for the west and a hunger for the Rose City.
“We would venture up and down the West Coast whenever we had time and loved Seattle, love San Diego, Arizona—but Portland, we’re foodies, so that’s the big part of it, we love being outdoors, it just felt right," Lattimore said. "We just trusted our intuition and we just went with it.”
The growth mindset aligned Lattimore with Jay Locey, head coach of the Division III Lewis & Clark Pioneers.
“What I am trying to teach at Lewis & Clark is how important it is to value those little things in life," Lattimore said. "Those little things that we skip over in elementary school and middle school: respect, kindness, courage, growth, just in general. Coach Locey is a man of firm values. He stands on a great foundation ... once values align and you are with somebody that is like-minded, it almost comes natural.”
Lattimore, who turns 29 at the end of the month, served in a similar role at his Alma Mater after coaching at a private school in Columbia.
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