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Giants’ Aaron Rouse: Definition of a Man, Father, Son, Brother, Soldier

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Giants’ Aaron Rouse: Definition of a Man, Father, Son, Brother, Soldier

So who is Giants' safety Aaron Rouse?


Well to the casual fan, Rouse, 25, is currently the starting free safety on Big Blue’s defense, a player whom the Giants acquired via waivers from Green Bay on September 24, 2009.


He is also a player who, despite being inserted into the starting lineup just four weeks ago, is tenth on the team in total tackles with 42 (31 solo) and who is quickly showing that he’s a good fit for the style of defense the Giants like to play.


But to really understand who Rouse is, you need to understand the meaning behind an eight-word statement tattooed across the 6-4, 223 lbs. Rouse’s back which reads “Definition of a Man, Father, Son, Brother, Soldier.”


They’re simple words, but they tell a complex story of a challenge that Rouse managed to overcome through sheer will and determination.


Definition of a Man

To understand what drives the 25-year old Rouse, you have to go back to his childhood. Rouse, the second of four children and oldest son of a single mother, grew up in the Friendship Village housing project, in Virginia Beach, VA, a rough neighborhood.


From the time Rouse was a little boy, his father, Roosevelt Newby, struggled with making the right decisions in his best interest, instead turning toward a life of drugs and crime that saw him land in and out of jail at least a dozen times, including a three-year sentence that he completed in 1998.


Despite having intentions to stratighted out his life, Newby ended up receiving a 43-year prison sentence with no chance of parole after being convicted of fatally shooting a man on December 26, 1999 in a Virginia Beach, Va. crack house.


With Newby out of the picture, Rouse’s mother, Nadine Rouse, was forced to work multiple jobs in an effort to make sure that her kids had everything they needed. Her sacrifices weren’t lost on her oldest son, who soon realized the toll it was taking on his family.


Although he and his siblings had the guardianship of his grandparents, Clarence and Ruth Rouse, who afforded the kids with the chance to enjoy childhood, young Aaron had other plans in mind, having made a decision that would change his life forever.


He was ready to accept the responsibilities that came with being a man.


“I became a man because that’s what my family needed me to do. And I was glad to do it.”


As soon as he was old enough, Rouse began doing a variety of jobs after school in order to help support his family. “I remember getting my grandfather’s lawnmower and pushing it around for miles,” he said. “I’d go into the suburbs, to the nice neighborhoods and cut the lawns for people. With the money I’d make, we spend a little, but we’d also look to save what we could for other things.”


He also took on a job as a filling station attendance for a bus company, where on hot, humid days he’d have to fill buses with diesel fuel, riding his bike to and from practice. “That was tough,” he recalled, “but it was for my family, so I learned a lot about being responsible at a young age.”


Definition of a Father

Rouse credits his grandfather for helping instill the core values that have made him into the solid citizen he is today and for preparing him for fatherhood.


Clarence Rouse, a veteran of World War II, spent as much time as he could with his grandson, molding him into man he’d become and helping him learn to make the transition to the father when as a senior in college, Rouse was given the unexpected news that his long-time girlfriend, Jacina Thornton, was pregnant.


Rouse remembers when he learned that he was going to be a dad. He was with his teammates in San Francisco for the Insight Bowl when Jacina called him with her news.


“My first through was disbelief,” Rouse recalled. “I think I was in denial until her belly started growing and I could feel the baby moving. That’s when I started to realize how blessed I was.”


Those early feelings exploded into a deep, unconditional love when Jacina gave birth to a healthy baby boy they named Isaiah.


“When I had my own son, that changed everything,” Rouse said. “I knew what it was like to not have a father around just to do simple things like talk or play ball in the yard, and I vowed that I would always be there for my son no matter what.”


Rouse beamed as he spoke about his now six-year old son who along with his mother lives in Wisconsin where he’s enrolled in a public school. “Isaiah is a handful,” he said, pride dripping from his voice. “He’s very energetic and tall. He is a true boy -- he loves to hit a baseball, and said that he wants to play for the Giants when he grows up.”


The proud dad beamed even brighter. “What he’s really into now, though, is Legos. When he came here to visit the week before Thanksgiving, I took him to the Garden State Mall and when he saw the Legos store, he was so excited. He ran there and being able to see the happiness in my son’s eyes as he went through the store was just priceless.”


What’s also priceless, at least as far as Rouse is concerned, is knowing that he will have the opportunities to share things with his son that he himself missed out on sharing with his own father.


“As a young man growing up without a father, you really realize the benefits of what a dad can bring to your life,” Rouse said. “Because my father wasn’t around, I missed out on a lot of things that a son usually does with his father.


“Because I was like a father to my siblings growing up,” he added, “I realized how important the role was, so I promised myself that when I had a child of my own, I would be there for them, regardless if I was successful in the NFL or whatever business I went into.”


In addition to Isaiah, Rouse also serves as a father figure to his sister’s children, who lost their dad to a tragic accident. “Like my son, they are my inspiration,” Rouse said. “I want them to always know that no matter what happens, I’m here for them.”


Definition of a Son

Rouse is completely devoted to his mother, so much so that he wouldn’t even think of doing anything that might bring shame to the family name. In recognizing the sacrifices that she made to help him get to where he was, he was only too happy to reward her efforts by delivering positive results on things he could control.


For example, as a junior in First Colonial High School, Rouse made certain to stay off the streets and away from the influences that his own father had fallen victim to. As such, he took an interest in football, where he played wide receiver, safety, linebacker, running back and cornerback.


Rouse was so intent on honing his craft that he was named a PrepStar All-American. That drew the attention of several colleges, one of which was Virginia Tech, which offered him a full football scholarship.


As a member of the Hokies, Rouse was on his way to great heights as he began dreaming of a career in the NFL. However, during his junior season, he was dealt a double blow that threatened his future when his grandfather passed away and his mother was hospitalized.


Thrown into a temporary tailspin, Rouse admitted to losing focus and was even benched for some games because his head and heart just weren’t in the game. That in turn led to red flags being raised when it came time for scouts to rank his draft stock after his senior year.


But Rouse is a survivor, and not wanting to disappoint his mother or his siblings, he mustered up his inner strength, regained his focus, and resumed the practice and playing habits that made him so successful to begin with. He finished his senior year with 77 tackles (third on the team) and led the Hokies defense with four interceptions.


“I realized that I had come too far to let it all go down the drain,” he said of his comeback. “I was determined to refocus, be humble and get back to where I needed to be because I wanted to get to the NFL.”


Thanks to the values instilled in him by his mother and his grandparents, Rouse also eventually found it in his heart to visit his father eight years after he was sentenced.


That was hard for Rouse, who admitted to resenting his father for the choices he made. But eventually, he found that time had started to heal the wounds.


“I went to see him in prison during my senior year of college,” said Rouse, who still keeps in touch with his father mostly through letters. “I didn’t go there to berate him about what he had done. As a man, I had come to understand things had happened and why they happened. While I am not accepting of those things, I understand and I learned from those mistakes, and told him that we can go from there.”


Definition of a Brother

As the oldest boy in his family, Rouse always made it a point to be there for his siblings, which includes twin sisters. No matter what they needed, Rouse did everything in his power to make sure they had it, even if it meant he had to go without something.


He learned all about sacrifice from his mother. “My main inspiration was my mom because even though she wasn’t around as much as she wanted to be, she always made sure her kids did the right thing, stayed out of the streets, and were solid citizens. That’s why I really got involved in sports, because it gave me something constructive to do and also helped teach me some important life lessons. I wanted to set an example for my siblings and share those lessons with them.”


When Nadine Rouse wasn’t around, her children had another role model looking after them, and that was her mother, Ruth, who delighted in planning birthday parties for the kids and taking care of the details for the holidays.


Unfortunately, breast cancer claimed Ruth’s life at the young age of 50. “That was really hard for me,” Rouse, who was 11 when his grandmother died, recalled. “She was so young and for her to be taken so quickly was just unbearable. But she also left enough of an impression on all of us to where we learned to look out for each other and be there as brothers and sisters.”


Definition of a Soldier

As Rouse grew up, he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, who would enthrall the boy with stories from his days in the military. But it was more than just the stories of war that so captivated young Aaron. It was the deeper message of sacrifice and pride in one’s self that truly resonated with him.


Those principles have also helped Rouse fit right in with the Giants organization, a team whose head coach preaches self-sacrifice for the team, pride, and character.


While Rouse is still finding his place in the Giants locker room, one thing he’s determined not to do is create any negative waves. “I make sure that I never put myself in a situation where I’d bring anything bad to my family,” he said, referring to both his birth and football families.


Instead, he looks to inspire his teammates with his morals and ethics that were instilled in him by his grandfather. “My grandfather always stressed the importance of being a man and not looking to anyone to give you anything,” Rouse said. “He stressed how important it was to always work hard, be honest, and be disciplined, because that’s what a true soldier is all about.


“A solider,” Rouse continued, “doesn’t expect anything. He makes sacrifices for the good of others. And when you need something done, you can look to him and know that he’ll come through for you, often with the selfless type of sacrifice that not a lot of people are always willing to give.”


That includes making the sacrifices to be successful on the football field.


“I’ve only been here for about six weeks, but given all that this team has gone through, I think every one of us has been challenged to step up and be a leader in our own way,” he said. “Now that I’m starting, I feel like it’s my responsibility to make sure that we are on the same page.”


He paused when asked if he could envision himself eventually becoming more of a leader on the Giants if the team invites him back next year and beyond. “most definitely. Right now it’s a case of ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do,’ but I think in time once I get a good sense of what it’s all about, I can look to integrate more of my thoughts about things to help make our team better.”




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