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Clemson vs Ohio State: Nolan Turner’s painful path to unlikely hero

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community news, Clemson vs Ohio State: Nolan Turners painful path to unlikely hero

NEW ORLEANS — The Fiesta Bowl was secured on Dec. 28 when Clemson defensive back Nolan Turner came down in the end zone with an interception of Ohio State’s Justin Fields with 37 seconds left in the game. Turner caught the ball on the “S” in “Ohio State” that was painted in the end zone, the very same spot where he had been beaten for a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter.

It was a redemptive moment for Turner, who received just one scholarship offer from a major program, but there was so much more to it than that. It was the redshirt junior’s biggest play in football, a sport with which he and his family have a complicated, painful and tragic relationship.

Football likely played a key part in killing Nolan’s father, Kevin Turner, a former star fullback at Alabama and veteran of eight seasons in the NFL. He died four years ago at age 46, his body ravaged by ALS and his mind by CTE. Autopsy findings left doctors with little doubt that Kevin’s battering-ram playing style contributed directly to his demise.

“It was tough to watch him go through that,” Nolan said Saturday, where he and his Clemson teammates will play LSU for the national championship. “A big, strong dude, to watch this disease just tear him apart was hard. … But to see his outlook on life was special. That’s something I’ll take with me, being grateful for what he did have, not what he didn’t have.”

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