Born on March 3, 1984, in Belle Glade, Florida, Santonio Holmes overcame an impoverished upbringing to become a professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Jets. A gifted wide receiver, Holmes earned Super Bowl XLIII MVP honors after making the game-winning touchdown catch, but has seen his accomplishments eclipsed by various on- and off-the-field issues.
Santonio Holmes Jr. was born on March 3, 1984, in Belle Glade, Florida. Raised in a single-parent household in a town so economically distressed that it was nicknamed "Muck City," Holmes hunted rabbits for food and, at one point, sold drugs to earn extra cash. But he was a gifted athlete who starred at basketball, track and football at Glades Central High School, helping his teams to state championships in the latter two sports. After graduating, he enrolled at The Ohio State University.
After sitting out his freshman year, Holmes was involved in an auspicious incident in November 2003 when he was charged with disorderly conduct outside a campus dormitory. The charges were eventually dropped, and he soon developed into a key receiver and kick returner for the Buckeyes. In 2005, Holmes recorded 53 catches for 977 yards and 11 touchdowns to earn selection to the All-Big Ten first team. After declaring himself eligible for the 2006 NFL Draft, he was selected with the 25th overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
NFL Highs and Lows
Despite being undersized at 5'11" and approximately 190 pounds, Holmes proved that he had the speed and skills to be a successful pro wide receiver. He averaged an NFL-best 18.7 yards per catch in 2007, then enjoyed a dream finish to the 2008 season by making the winning touchdown catch with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIII and earning game MVP honors. The following year, he compiled a career-best 1,248 receiving yards.
However, Holmes's reputation for trouble continued to build. Shortly after being drafted, he was charged with domestic violence and assault against the mother of one of his children. He was arrested in 2008 for marijuana possession, and was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
Traded to the New York Jets, Holmes was a vital contributor after returning from his suspension and helped his new club reach the AFC Championship game. He was rewarded with a five-year, $45 million contract and named a team captain by head coach Rex Ryan, but things unraveled during a frustrating 2011 season. Holmes reportedly feuded with quarterback Mark Sanchez, then angered his teammates with his lackadaisical play in the final game of the season, a loss that eradicated the Jets' playoff hopes.
The downward spiral continued into 2012, as the maligned star suffered a foot injury in the fourth game that knocked him out of action for the rest of the season. Despite his talent and charity work on behalf of sickle-cell anemia research, Holmes was looking to repair his professional and personal reputation heading into the 2013 season.
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