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Irrelevant Week: Relevance that resonates

June 24, 2011|By Julie Buehler

But apparently, Ozougwu did not get that message. His collegiate success on the field and in the classroom spilled into the conversation with genuine humility. He spoke of his goals, not to be the greatest, but to be the hardest working. He spoke of his family, supportive, loving and real. He was open and thoughtful. He enjoyed the celebration but knew there is a lot of work ahead to ensure it would not be the only thing he was celebrated for.

His second day was a whirlwind through Disneyland, then up to Culver City and an interview with the NFL Network and then back to Disneyland to finish soaking up the sun, getting dropped in an elevator and twirling in tea cups. I watched him patiently wait for the crew to spill out of the various cars and set up photo ops. He signed autographs and took pictures with young children, their parents, their friends, the camera guy and his friend. And he accepted his temporary celebrity with gracious understanding that it was merely a door being opened. The journey is yet to come.

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The Lowsman banquet followed on Wednesday with NFL Hall of Famer Mike Haynes, former players Clay Matthews, Clay Matthews Jr., Christian Okoye, and great coaches Stan Morrison, Dave Levy and John Robinson all in attendance, just to name a few. The dignitaries offered advice to Ozougwu. Robinson jokingly suggested Cheta roll into camp in a limo with Las Vegas showgirls dangling off his arm. Levy told him to play with the ferocity of Matthews Jr. and Haynes instructed him to become the guy coaches lean on. The Newport Beach Marriot banquet hall was packed. Each table brought people together for the sincere enjoyment of doing something nice for a great guy. You could not misplace the irony of top-round draft picks honoring Ozougwu with advice and Cheta noticeably absorbed the words.

The emcee was ESPNLA radio host, new Lakers play-by-play radio announcer and Corona del Mar High graduate, John Ireland. Ozougwu enjoyed the laughter and thanked the attendees for the memories, advice and love, but it was clear; his mind was on his mission to succeed as a professional football player.

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