Tyeler Davison’s mother, Michelle, who died of a drug overdose when he was 15, would be proud of the professional football player.
As a freshman in high school, he found her in their Phoenix, Arizona, home. He battled through some tough times, but has grown up and has made a name for himself in this cruel and sometimes unrelenting world.
“I just try and let my story be known and let others know that you can persevere through those type of things and overcome any difficulties in your life, whatever it may be,” Davison told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday. “Everybody has difficulties that they have to overcome.”
Davison, a defensive tackle, still carries the scars with him after he found her body, eyes open, hanging over a couch.
He called 911 and tried to follow the instructions on how to perform CPR. Firemen broke through the door and told him his mother had died.
“It was my freshmen year of high school,” Davison said. “I was 15.”
After playing at Fresno State, Davison, who’s 6-foot-2 and 309 pounds, was selected in the fifth round (154th overall) of the 2015 draft by the New Orleans Saints.
Davison played in 61 games for the Saints and made 48 starts. He had 3.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits, while helping to stuff the opposition’s rushing attack.
The Falcons, looking for depth at defensive tackle after letting Terrell McClain leave, signed Davison to a one-year, $895,000 contract, with $200,000 guaranteed.
“We’re really excited,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “The addition of him and Allen (Bailey) have really felt strong and square inside in the run game. You know how important that can be.”
The Falcons have been impressed with Davison’s instincts in the trenches.
“Those are the things you don’t know until you start to work with somebody,” Quinn said. “His strength. His ability to read blocks and play square.”
Quinn has enjoyed the battles between Davison and Pro Bowl center Alex Mack.
“He’s been a good addition to what we are doing,” Quinn said. “We’ll feature him more on first and second down in all of the packages.”
Defensive line coach Jess Simpson also is high on Davison.
“Tyeler, honestly, he’s been a great addition,” Simpson said. “He has done as super job for us on first and second down. He’s a really good run defender.”
Davison hopes to make an impact on defense.
“It’s going well,” Davision said. “I really like how DQ runs this defense and how he utilizes the line. He lets us all play to our strengths. I feel like it’s coming along well so far.”
As far as leaving the Saints for a division rival, Davison is working his way through that transition.
“It wasn’t that tough because the Saints, if the Saints wanted me to come back they could have, but that didn’t play out that way,” Davison said. “So, Atlanta wanted me, and so I came over here.
“The whole rivalry thing wasn’t much of a factor because it just didn’t play out that way. It was definitely a big change, but it wasn’t that difficult for me. Playing against Atlanta all of the time, I knew they were a good team.”
Davison is adjusting to his new head coach being a defensive-minded.
“That’s one of the things that’s a big change,” Davison said. “Coming from New Orleans where the head coach (Sean Payton) is an offensive-minded coach to here where Dan Quinn literally coaches the (defensive) line, my position. That was definitely a factor and being a defensive linemen, that was a plus.”
Davison knows that he’s a case study in perseverance.
“Whether it seems minor or small to anybody else, everybody has those type of things,” Davison said. “I just want people to know that if I can do it or anybody else can do, they can do it as well.”
Davison does not want his mother’s death to be in vain.
“I think she’d be proud,” Davison said. “Hopefully, she’s up there smiling down. But yeah, I think she’d be proud.”
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