Markus Golden's Why
COLUMBIA - Success stories aren't about what. They're about why.
"You have to have a reason," Missouri senior defensive end Markus Golden said. "You got to have a why. And my why has always been to make my family better."
But to understand why, you have to understand how Markus Golden got here. And like most success stories, it started with a vision, when he was just four years old.
"He took an interception back to the house for a touchdown and when he got back, he said I want to play at Mizzou and when he got to the NFL, he was going to buy me and his mom a house," Markus' dad Marcus Eberhart said. "And those were his exact words as a 4-year old kid."
Seventeen years later, Markus Golden took an interception back to the house for a touchdown when Mizzou played Toledo last season. Nobody could stop Markus on that play and nobody could stop him from seeing his vision.
"He slept, he ate, and his every thought was football, football," Markus' mom Rhonda Golden said.
Football was Markus' golden ticket to a better life. You see, his family grew up poor in inner-city St. Louis but his mom helped him stay focused.
"If we go outside and someone was getting pulled over by the police, she'd point them out like 'You see those guys? They're followers. You don't want to be a follower.' And since I was a kid, she put in my head, leader, leader. Be a leader," Markus Golden said.
"And it wasn't easy. I won't lie and say it was. It was not easy," Rhonda Golden said.
It wasn't easy. Markus quit football and got kicked out of high school his sophomore year. But then, it clicked.
"I just realized this isn't for me. I'm supposed to be the guy that shows my little cousins that you don't need to get in trouble. So me and my mom just sat down and wrote goals down. I wrote I want to be a football player at Mizzou. I wanted to be a 2,000 yard running back at my old high school. I wanted to break the tackling record. Quitting that team made me the man I am today," Markus Golden said.
But Markus still had to go to junior college because his grades were so bad. And even when he got to Mizzou, he started on special teams.
"You can never just sit there and be like 'I'm a backup so I'm not going to play," Markus' roommate Denzel Martin said. "Because Markus went from getting one play a game to his plays bumping and bumping and bumping."
Now, the kid who got kicked out of school is a captain and will be the first in his family to graduate from college.
"I see a lot of kids like this," Missouri assistant coach Cornell Ford said. "And some of them get lost in the shuffle. Me personally, I came from that kind of background. And the reason I'm in this profession is for kids like him. So when you see them succeed, it makes me happy. Because that's why I do this. That's why."
"I used to always call Markus my superstar. And he'd say 'Nah, mom I'm not a superstar.' The point that he is at now, I can say 'My superstar' and he'll say 'Yeah, I'm your superstar," Rhonda Golden said.
And to really understand who Markus is, realize that he could have left for the NFL. But he came back to Mizzou to get his degree so he can be a role model for his family.
"I always felt like someone had to be the one to make it out of the family to show that the Goldens were a good family and the Goldens could make stuff happen in the world," Markus Golden said.
And that is Markus Golden's why.