The Striking Story Behind Giants Draft Pick's Journey to NFL

John Healy
May 20, 2020 - 1:29 pm
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Every NFL player has his own unique journey, but New York Giants fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes may be the team’s most intriguing draft pick from the 2020 class.

Holmes, a 5-foot-10 cornerback out of UCLA, graduated in just 2.5 years with a degree in African-American studies and is learning speed chess to help with his on-field decision-making, but Holmes’ story and personality goes much deeper than that.

As NJ.com’s Zach Rosenblatt unveiled in a recent profile on Holmes, the Giants’ newest cornerback’s mentality and drive is shaped by the adversity he has had to overcome from his childhood.

Holmes’ father, Darick Holmes, was a former NFL running back drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1995 but he lasted just five years in the NFL and burned through the money he earned.

He resorted to other ways to make money, and when Darnay was 10 years old, his father was arrested for running a tax-scam.

Around the same time, while the case was pending, Darick was also shot seven times in a drug deal gone wrong. According to court documents, Darick was given $80,000 in cash to deliver in exchange for marijuana, and was robbed for the money.

Darick survived the shooting and spent a year rehabbing how to walk again. He was spared jail time for the tax scam, but how he responded is what stuck with Darnay the rest of his childhood

“He was a person who instilled that ‘hustler’ drive,” Darnay told Rosenblatt. “That drive to compete each and every day, knowing that there is somebody out there working to take your spot or working to be better than you.

“He always made sure that you can’t take any shortcuts. If you take shortcuts, when the time comes and you reach that destination, there are lessons that you did not learn. The downfall is always going to be harder than the come-up.”

Prior to the shooting, Darick had worked with underprivileged youth and after the shooting he shifted more of his focus into that, helping young athletes achieve football careers through his football training business Proway Training.

Adversity did not stop there for Darnay and his family.

As a freshman at UCLA, his mother was evicted from her home. Darnay let her sleep in his apartment while he slept at the team’s practice facility in a makeshift bed.

The came the adversity on the field.

In 2019, Darnay injured his ankle. He returned too early and had a rough season which plummeted his draft stock.

But Darnay played in the Senior Bowl where he caught the attention of the New York Giants, not just with his skills, but with his mind, energy and football IQ.

It resulted in the Giants drafting him with the 112th overall pick in the draft on April 25.

Now, Darnay is preparing for his rookie season. He began learning chess a year ago and is using that game as a way to not only make him a better player on the field, but in life, according to his father.

“One of my sayings is: We move with strategy, not emotions,” Darick told NJ.com. “So when he told me [about chess], I said: ‘Ok, so we’re moving with strategy now, not emotions, huh?’ It was a blessing … it slowed the game up for him, and he thinks things out a lot more in life.”