Miami Dolphins

From homeless to a soon-to-be millionaire: The remarkable Minkah Fitzpatrick story

Newest Dolphin Minkah Fitzpatrick is powered by PB&J.

He ate more of those as a kid than you probably have in your life.

That was Fitzpatrick's lunch every day at St. Peter's Preparatory School in his native New Jersey.

Fitzpatrick, the Alabama defensive back selected by the Dolphins with the 11th overall pick Thursday night, did not have money for lunches as a teen, so the school provided peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, according to

As soon as he affixes his name to what is expected to be a four-year, $16.4 million NFL contract, he and his family can afford to open a chain of sandwich shops — and eat whatever they want.

Fitzpatrick is new to many Dolphins fans, so his remarkable backstory needs to be explored.

His family lost their home and most of their possessions when Hurricane Irene crushed Greater New York in August 2011. Making an awful situation worse: the family did not have the necessary insurance. They were ruined financially. The house was condemned, so the family was essentially homeless.

But his parents were determined to keep Fitzpatrick in his expensive private school in Jersey City, so his dad, Minkah Sr., worked three jobs while the family rebuilt everything.

Their sacrifice paid off in the biggest way Thursday, as Minkah Jr. became a first-round draft pick, with the life-changing contract that comes with it.

"I kind of had to grow quick just because of some things I’ve been through at a young age and it kind of helped me realize what I was chasing after," Fitzpatrick said late Thursday. "I had a goal in mind and I wasn’t going to fall short of that goal. That was my mind-set going in, and it is the same thing in the NFL. My dream wasn’t to just make it to the NFL, it’s to be a great player in the NFL. It’s just the beginning. Like I said, I’m going to take that same mindset I had at Alabama and apply it to the Miami Dolphins organization."

Fitzpatrick's maturity was a selling point for the Dolphins. He played a big role for Alabama as a freshman, and Nick Saban does not put players on the field who aren't ready to be there.

"He came off at 18 right as a freshman and was an impact player for them," Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said. "He’s been a very good football player for three years. [He has] impeccable character. There was a story … You guys have all seen his story."

The nation saw the story during Thursday night's first round.

After he was selected, he read an emotional, proud letter written by mother Melissa.

“It was a tough time in my family’s life, but the only way we got through it was by sticking together as a unit, doing everything together, making decisions together and making sure everybody was all right," Fitzpatrick told Miami reporters. "And then of course, at the foundation of all of that, was our faith. Our faith in Christ kept us all rooted in the right things, kept our minds and our hearts in the right place. So that was how we did that. It did affect my ability to play sometimes. At one time I told my family I was going to quit and just work and not go to (the) school I was going to because it was a private school, so my family had to pay. So, it did affect my mind-set a little bit; but after a while it kind of reverted my mindset onto something else and it made me work harder rather than just giving up."

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