1 of the top NFL recruits in country from Cleveland is now simply Inmate No.690-128

1 of the top NFL recruits in country from Cleveland is now simply Inmate No.690-128

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Seven years.

That's how long it's been since Latwan Anderson, star football player, graduated from Glenville High School.

Seven years is now what he's serving behind bars.

On a Tarblooder team loaded with future NFL talent, Cardale Jones, Christian Bryant, Shane Wynn, Anderson may have been the best of the bunch.

A phenomenal athlete with world-class speed.

But while some of his former teammates now play on Sundays, Anderson sits at the Lorain Correctional Institution.

One of the top recruits in the country, now simply Inmate No. 690-128.

What happened?

"Pretty much lose control ... " Anderson told me during my recent visit to the prison. "It's hard to be a kid and have all that attention, have everybody love you today and hate you tomorrow."

In a one-month span in early 2016, Anderson, desperate for money, committed three armed robberies, one of them brutally violent, in which he held a loaded gun to a gas station clerk's head.

"It was the pressure of going back and forth with my daughter's mother,"  Anderson said. "My kid needs this, and she (the mother) needs help doing 'this.' I was working a job. I actually had two jobs at the time."

What he didn't have -- what he'd never had -- was a solid foundation.

Ted Ginn, Sr., longtime Glenville football coach and founder of Ginn Academy, tried to provide one.

Ginn has always been far more than a football coach.

He's a life coach, and sometimes a surrogate father, for inner-city kids. And he has hundreds of success stories. Latwan Anderson is not one of them.

"I only had him for one year," Ginn told me, referring to the fact that Glenville was Anderson's third high school. "Prior to me, football was #1 to everybody else, to him. When he came to me, He was number one. We're gonna play football and run track, but I'm going to work on you. And I didn't have enough time."

There was a part of Anderson that Ginn couldn't reach. Latwan had the talent, but not the trust, and therefore never bought in.

"Yeah, I have the spotlight, but at the end of the day, who really cares about who I am,"  Anderson said. "Or do you really just care that I can score touchdowns?"

Eventually, Latwan did what he did best. He ran.

He wanted to run to USC, his dream school, but his family felt that was too far away.

So he ran to South Florida instead.

"I never thought about the NFL," Anderson said. "I just thought about playing football for USC, and once I couldn't do that, my dream was crushed, so I made up my mind to go somewhere warm and have fun."

And so the spiral continued.

He partied his way out of the University of Miami in one semester, bounced around a couple of community colleges, but nothing lasted. By 2014, Latwan had fathered a child, and says the pressure of trying to provide, while being ill-equipped to do so, led him into a life of crime.

The fastest 200-meter high school sprinter in the nation back in his day, Anderson now has nowhere to run, each day moving slower than the last.

He's looking at seven years in prison.

By then, he'll be 32 years old.

Most of his life still in front of him.

But is he confident he will choose the correct path, make better choices, when he's free?

"I'm better than I've ever been,"  Anderson said. "I can think clear, see clear, I understand who I am and learned how to deal with consequences and making decisions as a man. I'm fine with everything that happened, because right now I can teach my little brother the right way to go."

And when he looks back, he sees what could have been.

"I never really realized how good I was until it was all over with," he said.

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