If you crossed Superman with Mr. T., you would most likely get a high-flying trash-talking, polite, yet offensive fellow who would “pity the fool” that challenged him.
That combination may seem far-fetched, but in reality a man with similar characteristics has been flying into the end-zone, talking trash to his defenders, raising two children and
going to school full-time.
That man doesn’t wear a cape with a big “S” on the front of his chest, nor does he wear 10-pounds of bling and shave his head into a Mohawk.
He does however wear the No. 81 jersey for semi-pro football team the Mile High Grizzlies.
The 6’5” wide receiver is hard to miss on the football field, unless you’re a defender trying to stop him from scoring. He will juke you left, juke you right and then give you a fat stiff-arm right to your face before dancing jubilantly into the end-zone.
With 11 touchdown receptions in eight games, two tours in war-torn countries with the Army and a pile of electrical engineering books to read, it’s hard to see where Darnell Fuller finds the time to be a dad.
“I balance football, school and fatherhood very carefully,” Fuller said with a look of seriousness. “Football is something I do on my spare time; school takes precedent over that, and fatherhood is number one.”
Sacrifice is a familiar word for Fuller. After getting a divorce in 2006 and receiving partial custody of his two children, Jaleesa, 9; and Jayden, 7, Fuller decided to hit the books again and go back to school for his bachelor’s degree.
“Going back to school has been a hindrance on my ability to spend time with my kids, but I think it will develop our relationship and give us a better life after school.”
Fuller is a full-time student at Metro, who is studying electrical engineering in hopes of someday becoming a sound engineer for rising artists. This isn’t Fuller’s first time in college, though. After growing up in Colorado Springs as a high school basketball star, Fuller got a full-ride scholarship to play ‘ball at Colorado Northwestern Community College.
After that ride was over, Fuller decided to take another. This time, the ride would be fully armored and filled with weapons.
Fuller spent the next five years after community college serving his country as a helicopter avionics radar repair technician with the Army.
Six months of that time was spent in Kosovo in 2001. Fuller’s job was to fly to locations
that had damaged helicopters, either from battle or normal wear and tear, and fix the aircraft survivability equipment.
One day that stands out for Fuller was when he had to provide security for an OH-58 Delta (observatory helicopter).
“The pilot must have skimmed the trees and went down,” Fuller said. “It was just hanging from the trees when we got there,” he added with a slightly excited voice.
After Kosovo, it was off to the beach. Not the good kind of beach either. It was the kind of beach that has improvised explosive devices (IEDs) buried under the sand just waiting for an unsuspecting soldier to set them off. Fuller spent five months in Mosul, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“My most memorable experience was driving across the border from Kuwait to Iraq … and seeing the effects of the units that were ahead of us,” Fuller said.
Although he never got shot at, he witnessed the horrors of war and the sacrifice of being in a foreign land without his family.
As a devout Christian, Fuller tries to follow the road of the Lord. And like the clown he is with his friends, co-workers and teammates, Fuller will be traveling that road while juggling his life -— fatherhood, school and football. Instead of painting his face white and wearing a big red nose, Fuller will be dressed in orange and white, the colors of the Mile High Grizzlies.
People: Darnell Fuller