Juju McDowell Fights Through Family Heartbreak


South Carolina sophomore running back Juju McDowell has an appreciation for the little things, such as sleeping in his own bed. After his mother died when he was in high school, McDowell didn’t always have a consistent place to lay his head at night.

“It meant a lot to come to college. I had become accustomed to the couch being my home. I’m still trying to grow out of it. Coming to college and having my own little bed was just,” McDowell’s voice trailed off as he thought about how far he has come.

“My mom was my baby,” McDowell’s voice perking up as he speaks of his mom. “That was my girl! She was my rock. Any problem, no matter the circumstances, she would help me. She did anything in her power to help me. She took away from her needs to provide for me and my little brother (Corey). That’s something I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

McDowell grew up in Bainbridge, Georgia, and was raised by his mother, Latorya, until she passed away in 2018.

“She was diagnosed with sickle cell,” McDowell said. “She wasn’t aware of it for a while, and she was getting treatment for it at the time when Hurricane Michael hit my city bad, and we didn’t have power for about two months. Trees were everywhere, and she couldn’t get there to get her medicine and treatments. She ended up passing. I was 15. I had been through a lot in life, but I was never prepared to face anything like that. It has made me who I am today.

“I’ve realized a lot about myself and about life in general.”