This isn’t your normal player-overcomes-odds, rags-to-riches Thanksgiving story.
Granted, there’s a lot of that in Jorvorskie Lane’s heartwarming tale — he’s the overweight-furniture-mover-turned-NFL-bruiser — but much of that ground has already been covered.
Instead, this is a real-life screen play about those closest to the Dolphins’ first-year fullback: Lane’s wife Chan, and little Javia, Jai’Unna and Jorvorskie Jr., his kids, none older than 6.
Last holiday season, they didn’t have their own home. Mom and dad were out of work. They survived on government assistance and the kindness of family and friends.
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The Lane family doesn’t need a day to remind them to give thanks. They’re reminded every time they unlock the door to their apartment. Every time they open the fridge and there’s food inside that they could pay for themselves.
“This time of year, we’re like ‘Wow,’ ” Chan Lane said earlier this week. “We’ve been talking about it for last two weeks: Look how far we’ve come. It’s been a total difference.
“It’s been so hard, [but] I’m really happy that he stuck with it.”
It was certainly hard on Lane when, three years out of college, he was 50 pounds overweight, driving a furniture delivery truck through Central Texas and earning a paycheck that flirted with the poverty line.
But it might have been even harder on his family, which didn’t have a car, crammed two or three in a room, and for a time needed food stamps to fill their bellies.
Jorvorskie Lane has known Chan since grade school, but has known struggle even longer. A baby born four weeks premature and into a single-parent home, he grew up with his grandparents — “blue-collar people,” he said. His grandmother, Linda Morris, has been a constant presence in his life, and when times were at their the worst last year, Morris took the whole family in.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. The future seemed far brighter when Lane accepted a scholarship to play football for Texas A&M. His first three years, he played running back, but when Mike Sherman took over as coach in 2008, he moved Lane to fullback.
Sherman quickly identified what would be Lane’s biggest impediment: He couldn’t keep weight off.
Meanwhile, he suddenly had a lot of mouths to field; three young children, all born within two years. But the NFL doesn’t want fullbacks built like defensive tackles, and so Lane went undrafted in 2009 and bounced around minor-league football.
Playing for teams like the West Texas Roughnecks is only so lucrative, so Jorvorskie went to work for Ashley furniture driving a delivery truck, while Chan worked in daycare.
Still, ends rarely met, and Jorvorskie Lane was miserable with his work. In 2010, they lost their home to foreclosure. And when they got married the following year, a honeymoon was out of the question. They sold the car, and had to borrow a friend’s to get around.
If he could ever get in shape, he thought, he wanted to give the NFL one last shot. His old coach, Sherman, now the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins, was willing to give it to him. There was one condition: Lane had to shed the pounds.
So the family took a bold risk: Lane was to spend all his time training for the NFL. In the short-term, that meant no job, and no money. That’s when the Lane family moved in with his grandmother.
“For me, not providing was the hardest part,” Lane said. “I was happy with my results of getting in shape and stuff like that, but my self-confidence [suffered]. I kept thinking, ‘My woman’s doing it.’ I had my days.”
Remarkably, he lost some 50 pounds, made the Dolphins roster after a strong training camp and has appeared in every game this season, starting the last four. And, most importantly, he pulls down a salary — $390,000 — that was nearly unthinkable this time last year.
That means the Lanes no longer have to bum rides. Both have their own cars. They rent a four-bedroom apartment in Davie, meaning Jorvorskie Jr. doesn’t have to share a room with Mom and Dad anymore. The girls, Javia and Jai’Unna, are thriving at Plantation’s Renaissance Charter school.
Jorvorskie Sr. practically beamed this week when he talked about being able to take his kids to the mall and buy them what they want. Grandma handled Christmas shopping for the children last year; she won’t have to this year.
Plus, Lane has a surprise for his wife this Thanksgiving. He has surreptitiously flown in Chan’s mom, dad, grandmother and aunt from College Station, Texas, to spend the holiday together.
“I feel as a man, as a husband, I want to make her feel special,” Lane said. “I’m thankful for everything I have.”
His family is too.