Player Profile: Jerry Jeudy plays for the memory of a loved one lost

Aug 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) before the preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jeudy has been a source of frustration for Broncos Country this year.

It’s unfathomable to believe that Jeudy has yet to score a touchdown this season, yet it’s true. After suffering an ankle injury that kept him out early in the season, fans have been clamoring to see Jeudy return to his first-round talent form. 

However, while some play football for glory, Jeudy plays for a purpose in honor of his little sister, Aaliyah. He’s on a mission to make sure her legacy never dies.  

Using Football As a Distraction

Jeudy was born in Deerfield Beach, Florida.

His parents divorced when he was young. 

His mother, Marie, was born in Haiti and headed for the United States when she was 14. Following the divorce, she worked multiple jobs, including making parachutes at an Army factory, serving as a nurse at an assisted living facility, and selling blankets, jewelry, purses, and lotions out of her car to provide for her four children.

Every summer, Marie took her kids to visit Haiti to offer a humbling experience and help them appreciate their lives back home.

Jeudy was the second youngest of four kids. He had a younger sister named Aaliyah. She was born premature and had to stay in the hospital for months afterward. She was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a rare condition that causes severe developmental delays because of an extra chromosome 18, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. Babies with trisomy 18 only have a 10 percent chance of reaching their first birthday.

Aaliyah eventually got to go home and used tubes to help her breathe and eat and had home nurses always at her care. She continued to defy the odds with each passing birthday.

In his freshman year, Jeudy attended Monarch High in Coconut Creek. However, after a coaching change, he transferred to Deerfield Beach High School in his junior year, where he continued to play football which provided him an escape from what was happening at home.

As a high school senior in 2016, he had 76 receptions for 1,054 yards and 15 touchdowns. Jeudy was rated as a five-star recruit, the third-highest rated wide receiver in the country, and the 19th highest-rated recruit overall by Rivals.com.

In his senior year, Deerfield Beach defeated Atlantic High School to reach the Class 8A state semifinals. After the game, his older brother Terry found Jeudy on the field and delivered the heartbreaking news that 7-year-old Aaliyah had died. Jeudy broke down and cried. He played his final high school game the following week in a 26-7 Class 8A state semifinal loss to Miami Southridge High School.

Using Football For Aaliyah

Jeudy committed to the University of Alabama to play college football on July 28, 2016.

He had a quiet freshman season, only amassing for 14 receptions for 264 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in eight games.  

However, he exploded in his sophomore year through only three games had already scored six touchdowns. Jeudy finished that season with 1,315 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named a consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-SEC. He was awarded the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver.

During his junior season, he started all 13 games to lead the team with 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns. His college career ended with six receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown in Alabama’s win over the University of Michigan in the Citrus Bowl.

In January 2020, Jeudy announced he would forgo his senior season by entering the 2020 NFL Draft.

The Denver Broncos drafted Jeudy with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was the second wide receiver selected, behind his fellow Alabama teammate Henry Ruggs who the Las Vegas Raiders chose at No. 12.

On July 23, 2020, Jeudy signed a 4-year, $15.192 million contract with the team, with an $8.6 million signing bonus.

For Jeudy, making it to the NFL wasn’t just about achieving his dreams; it was about fulfilling a promise to take care of his mother that he made after his sister had died: “She’s my mama. She do everything for me. Now it’s time for me to do everything for her.”

Although Jeudy saw 110 targets in his rookie season, he only grabbed 52 catches. He finished with 856 yards and three touchdowns. The receiver struggled with drops, recording 12, the second-highest total in his rookie class. Jeudy acknowledged his drops problem heading into his sophomore season, saying, “Basically, having those drops took away from the season I wanted it to be. It’s just taking advantage of the opportunities to catch the ball, look the ball in. That’s the biggest thing for me.”

Unfortunately, the 2021 season hasn’t gone the way Denver had initially hoped. Jeudy suffered an ankle injury in Week 1, which kept him off the field for six games. He has yet to break 80 yards in a game and has zero touchdowns. It’s not a coincidence that the Broncos are on track to miss the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.

Figuring out how to utilize Jeudy in 2022 must be on the top of the Broncos’ priority list. With trade rumors floating around and with a team on a mission to find a dominant quarterback, there will be a lot to watch from this wide receiver this offseason.  

SHARE