“And a lot of people don’t know that, but that’s why he has his disposition.”
Never was that more apparent than in the days following the shooting death of Freeman’s cousin, Anthony Darling. The two were so close that they referred to each other as brothers. Just hours after FSU beat Wake Forest on Sept. 12, Freeman got the phone call from his sister back home that Darling, 20, had been shot and killed when an adversary Darling had gotten the best of in a fight earlier that night had returned with a gun.
During practices the week after Darling’s death, Freeman often could be found crying.
But following what he had learned about family, Freeman returned home to spend some time and help the healing process. Then he came back to Tallahassee more at peace.
There was a moment in Freeman’s childhood that taught him a different type of lesson.
“There was one time in the park when he broke his leg,” Campbell said. “When he was the starter in the park before he broke his leg, he was getting rides all over, people all wanted to take him out to eat, have Devonta come over to their house.
“When he broke his leg and it looked like he wasn’t going to be the star of the park that year, he couldn’t get a ride home.”
Freeman was 14 when injured himself on a diving board at the local pool after he sneaked in.
“[Luther] was disappointed because I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing,” he said.
That experience also bore considerable weight in Freeman’s decision to choose Florida State over Miami.
Loyalty Is Key
After getting lukewarm responses from coaches during camps at Miami, Florida and Georgia, according to Freeman, he drew an immediate offer from Florida State during a summer camp after his junior year. Fisher told Freeman that regardless of how his senior season played out, the Seminoles wanted him.
Freeman wowed scouts during a historic senior season at Miami Central High School that culminated with a 500-plus yard performance in the state championship game. He had his pick of the college football world. He signed with FSU.
“Really, he’s the one that helped me choose the Seminoles,” Freeman said of Campbell. “He thinks Florida State is a better program, he knew Coach Jimbo, he knew Coach Gran, those are guys that he trusts a lot so he preferred me to come here instead of University of Miami. He wanted me to go to Miami deep down, but he wanted me to do what was best for me. He saw the big picture.”
Said Campbell: “He stayed true to the team that was there for him when nobody else was.”
That attitude is still with him Freeman.
Freeman understands family and loyalty.
He isn’t a typical college kid. He blends in well in the dining hall and in meeting rooms. He looks the part on campus. But unlike many of his peers, he isn’t focused on friends or parties.
“I’m trying to get my family out of their situation because my mama’s still struggling right now,” he said. “So I’m just trying to get her out of that.”