Damien Harris, the former Madison Southern football standout and feature running back for No. 1 Alabama, has drawn attention for his on-the-field exploits and his off-the-field opinions this fall.
In a story published Monday by TidesSports.com, the Tuscaloosa News’ website for all things Alabama football, writer Aaron Suttles goes back to Harris’ days growing up in Madison County in a profile that explores what Harris means when he says “football does not define me.”
On Aug. 30, Harris tweeted a story from Huffingtonpost.com about the Trump administration not having decided whether to accept aid from Mexico after Hurricane Harvey with the comment “This is who y’all voted for.”
In a state as deeply red Republican as it is Tide football, the comment generated an immediate “stick-to-sports” backlash.
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On one of the now-deleted responses, Harris answered, “Here’s another one. Football does not define me sir, it is just a platform to help me achieve my dreams both on and off the field.”
Harris is the Tide’s leading returning rusher and carried the ball for 1,037 yards last year. He blocked a punt on special teams in Alabama’s season-opening win over Florida State while also rushing for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Suttles talks about Harris’ childhood growing up in Madison County and playing for predominantly white Madison Southern High School. Through school rivalries, racial tensions and political disagreements, Harris remains true to who he is, his mother said in the story.
“When he enrolled at Southern I think there were four maybe five black kids there,” Lynn Harris told TideSports.com. “It was also a school known for racial tension as well. I told him, ‘We’ll tackle it head on, we’ll be a united front and we’ll handle it.’ He trusted me and we rode with it. Where we’re from is predominantly white, but Damien, he’s never been one to look at necessarily race. Even as a freshman and sophomore at Alabama, he’s had literally Keaton Anderson, Ritchie Petitbon, Hale Hentges, he hung out with all of them. That’s his group. That’s one of his main group of friends. Then he turns around and pledges Omega Psi Phi, and he has that group of friends. And he goes back and forth hanging with everybody. He’s a social butterfly. He likes to have a good time and surround himself with good people.”