Cie Grant knows something about miracles — and they have nothing to do with Holy Buckeye or the 2002 season.
The former Ohio State linebacker sees one each morning in his 1-year-old daughter, Marlie.
By any reasonable odds, she qualifies.
“First thing I do is look at her and there’s a big smile on her face,” said Grant, a safety official at an engineering company outside Pittsburgh. “She smiles all the time. Just a happy baby, and what a joy. It just shows me if I’m putting my faith in anything other than God, I’m wasting my time.”
Grant has learned that time and again over a lifetime filled with extraordinary highs and wrenching heartbreak.
At Ohio State, Grant’s name conjures indelible memories, from his blitzing takedown of Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey on the final play of the national title game, to a poignant and pitch-perfect solo rendition of “Carmen Ohio” before an Ohio Stadium crowd of 52,000 at the Buckeyes’ championship celebration days later.
Those close to him also know a man who has endured more than any 32-year-old should.
Grant lost his first child at birth in 2004 and his mother in 2009, then was rocked the next year when doctors diagnosed his wife, Brandi, with sarcoma — a rare form of cancer.
“Although I sound strong now,” he said in a phone interview, “there are weak moments.”
Yet there are moments, too, that fortify a faith passed on by his deacon father and god-fearing mother. After his newborn son died in his arms, Brandi was told she would not be able to have children.
A year later, she was pregnant with a soon-to-be healthy baby boy. The couple now have three children, including Marlie, born last year amid challenging circumstances.
Doctors worried for daughter and mother. Brandi had already underwent two surgeries for her cancer, and the pregnancy would not be routine. She went into pre-term labor at 27 weeks.
“Wow, you’re already high-risk, and your body’s been through a heck of a lot,” Grant recalled thinking.
Sometimes, though, he believes miracles happen. Today, Marlie is healthy and Brandi is doing well.
Grant, a third-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 2003 who played four seasons in the NFL, looks back at the 2002 season as both the best year of his football life and a starting point for greater things.
He hopes his story can help others.
“Before it’s said and done, I’m going to be working with kids,” Grant said.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my life and I think that creates a genuine voice that people are attracted to.”