Although Rashawn Scott had his coming out party on national TV in a thrilling, last-minute University of Miami football victory, his prolific performance this past Saturday hasn’t affected his modest demeanor – especially when it comes to talking about his unique family.
What has your adopted family done for your life? a visitor asked.
"Loved me,'' the soft-spoken sophomore receiver answered. "All the time.''
But mom and dad, his guardians and personal heroes, won’t be there Saturday night for Rashawn and his Hurricanes when they face the undefeated, ninth-ranked Irish of Notre Dame at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
“It’s killing my husband,’’ said Freddie Erdman, Rashawn’s adopted mom, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale and lives with her husband and seven children on Merritt Island near the Kennedy Space Center. “He wants to go to the Notre Dame game.’’
Instead, the family will be at Melbourne Central Catholic High School this weekend, where daughter Anna is on the school’s homecoming court.
“Her daddy has to walk her onto the football field,” Freddie Erdman said. “I have to let my other kids know that just because they don’t play Division I football, they’re just as important.’’
Rashawn, 20, whose story seems strikingly similar to that of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, immortalized in the Academy Award-winning movie The Blind Side, understands. After all, he said “they’re family.’’
The Blind Side tells the true story of a white family that adopts a black youngster whose mother could not adequately care for him. That young man, Oher, blossoms into a football star.
Rashawn met Michael Erdman, the dad of this clan, when the youngster was 8 and on his Pop Warner team.
He ended up living with the Erdmans much of the time. A few years later, his birth mom, now out of his life and in Virginia, agreed to let him live with the Erdmans full-time beginning in sixth grade. The Catholic Diocese of Orlando permitted Scott to attend school with the Erdmans as his guardians.
“We’re extremely proud of him,’’ said Mike Erdman, who owns Cadillac, Nissan and Toyota car dealerships on Merritt Island. “He had to overcome a lot of educational handicaps. Just talk to him, look in his eyes, watch him smile and you’ll know what he’s about.’’
Rashawn’s biological father has not been in his life since he was a young child.
“I started getting in a lot of trouble before they took me in,’’ Rashawn said. “I learned from them how to treat people, how to follow the rules and how to keep your cool and trust people so you can tell them stuff. I’m not big on telling people what’s going on in my head.’’
Freddie Erdman, who has a degree in exceptional education from UCF, home-schooled Rashawn for sixth grade while he attended a Catholic school. By the end of that year, he had finished both sixth and seventh grades.
“I’d go home and the first thing they’d do is put me to work at a table,’’ he said. “That’s how I got back on track.’’
Rashawn, who caught a career-high six passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday against North Carolina State, had an illustrious football career at Melbourne Central Catholic, where he was a man of many talents.
In his senior season, he had 845 yards and 11 touchdowns as a receiver, 945 yards and 12 touchdowns rushing and even threw for 545 yards and five touchdowns in three games as the starting quarterback.
Even more compelling: his brother Mike, a sophomore walk-on receiver at Georgia, was Rashawn’s quarterback during Rashawn’s sophomore and junior years at Melbourne Central Catholic; his brother Matthew, a student at LSU, was his quarterback during his senior year.
He became the first Hurricane to sign a Letter of Intent for then new coach Al Golden in February of 2011. “It made me happy because I felt comfortable with him and our coaching staff,’’ said Rashawn. “I really wanted to be here.’’
UM receivers coach George McDonald called Scott “a good kid’’ who “works hard and doesn’t say much. He’s just trying to get better every day.’’
Today, Rashawn is UM’s second-leading receiver with 17 catches for 326 yards and the two touchdowns he scored Saturday against North Carolina State.
Freddie Erdman, who said she loves Scott as much as her six birth children – “I’d go in front of a truck for him’’ – is not a fan of The Blind Side, which she believes makes a spectacle of something “that was the right thing to do.’’
“There are a lot of people who are guardians to kids out there, a lot of people with consciences. If a kid ends up playing a sport, that’s great, but that’s not what it’s about. Rashawn found us. He’s a very good person with a very big heart. It was meant to be.’’