Fournette overcomes hardships, excels in SEC

Marquis Munson

Leonard Fournette has been through the storm to become one of the best players in college football.

In his sophomore season, the LSU Tigers running back has become one of the most talented backs in the SEC. However, growing up in New Orleans and impacted by Hurricane Katrina may have been the hardest battles Fournette has ever had to go through.

Fournette was raised in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. He was only 10 years old in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina, the fifth deadliest hurricane in the history of the United States, ripped through his city. The aftermath was something the 10-year-old never expected to see.

“Life is short,” Fournette said. “Seeing all those dead bodies in the water floating, people robbing, looting just to help their family out.”

Fournette and his family had to evacuate their homes, sleeping under an overpass in downtown New Orleans for four days and five nights that still roam through his mind.

“It’s something that has stuck with me,” Fournette said. “Just having to sleep on the bridge and not taking a bath in four days and five nights – that’s pretty much how it was.”

Fournette had to bounce around to various grade schools until he enrolled in St. Augustine High School in 2008, where he grew toward his football success.

As a freshman, he ran for more than 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, earning him a scholarship offer from LSU, and he continued that success throughout his high school career. He was ranked No. 1 overall in the 2014 recruiting class according to ESPN, CBS Sports and He announced during the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game he would attend LSU over Texas and Alabama.

“I wanted to be different,” Fournette said. “Everybody was going to Alabama. I wanted to be different from
 everybody else.”

During his freshman year at LSU, Fournette gained 1,034 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns, setting the LSU record for rushing yards for a freshman. He also led the SEC in all-purpose yards with 137.4 per game.

“Just knowing that we came from nothing and we had to work hard every day just to get to where I am at right now,” Fournette said.

Playing on a high level in high school and continuing that at LSU during his freshman season made him one of the most watched players in college football in 2015, but it was growing up from the city of New Orleans that made him the man he is today.

“It humbled me a lot,” Fournette said. “Knowing where I came from, I made it out. A lot of people made it out to see the next couple of days and the next couple of years. I’m thankful that my family made it out alive. It made me stronger. Every decision that I make, I think about that.”