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The large, daring and colourful mural on the surface wall of Columbus Drive Gyros hits you want a storm surge whereas coming into the constructing.
It’s a life-size portray of hometown hero Kawann Brief, defensive deal with for the Carolina Panthers, in his No. 99 uniform and holding the Tremendous Bowl 50 trophy triumphantly in his proper hand, an occasion that was to not be.
All through Northwest Indiana, there have been banners, posters and pep rallies all through the town in help of the E.C. Central grad. Social media stored him in contact every day with the Area, as if he had been standing on the nook of Chicago Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, taking all of it in.
One explicit banner stretched throughout Columbus Drive at Alder Avenue, proclaimed: “East Chicago is happy with our hometown Kawann Brief. We’re East Chicago — Tremendous Bowl 50. Go Panthers!”
That 10-by-10-foot mural at Columbus Drive Gyros was painted Jan. 28 by the artist often known as Fhat Cousins, who labored on his labor of affection for eight hours.
“I’m 6-foot, and I nonetheless need to search for at it,” mentioned restaurant proprietor John Troupis. “It’s a win-win for the town as a result of it went viral on social media. Individuals are at all times pulling up, taking footage of it.
“Kawann beloved it and ended up sharing it (on social media). It lit a fireplace beneath all people to hitch the celebrating.”
E.C. Central and center faculty soccer gamers watched the 2016 Tremendous Bowl in the highschool’s mini-theater, with a pre-game video message delivered by Kawann Brief.
“I’ve seen a lot of the love coming from dwelling. It’s honest and coming from the guts,” he mentioned by cellphone previous to the sport. “East Chicago isn’t very massive. It has solely about 30,000 however they respect individuals who get out and do issues with their lives.
“And while you do, they gladly leap on board and help you 100%.”
The forty fourth general choose within the 2013 draft, Brief went from 5 sacks mixed over his first two seasons to an eye-popping 11 in 2105-16 — a group report for defensive tackles — earlier than the NFL championship recreation.
However what actually jumps out to college students of the sport is 11 sacks, 55 tackles and three compelled fumbles by a 4-3 inside lineman who is also a fierce cross rusher on the sting.
Brief has remodeled from a participant who flashed throughout the display screen as soon as a recreation to a surefire Professional Bowler.
“I’m simply out right here doing what I’m doing and attempting to assist this group win. It’s the one factor I can ask or work for,” mentioned the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Brief.
Brief has partnered with Athletes for Charity, HealthLinc and the East Chicago Fireplace and Police Departments to create educational incentives to profit youth. He’s launched a Youth Literacy Undertaking to ship books and educational incentives to youngsters in want of encouragement in terms of studying and educational achievement.
“They at all times come again. They’ve by no means forgotten about their metropolis and that’s what’s so nice,” mentioned Steve Segura, multimedia director of East Chicago.
Getting concerned, sending a optimistic message, can work wonders in any atmosphere.
“Some guys play this recreation 16-17 years and haven’t been to the Tremendous Bowl. I’ve performed three years and I’m right here,” mentioned Brief, who had a video message for the town’s soccer gamers watching Tremendous Bowl 50 recreation at the highschool:
“I’ve been in your place and in the identical seats a few years in the past. I had a imaginative and prescient and a dream to be the place I’m at this time,” Brief mentioned. “East Chicago … you guys have been behind my again 100%. I admire you guys for being there, exhibiting love and help. You’ve been wonderful. Have a blessed day.”
As youngsters, E’Twaun Moore and Brief usually stopped at Columbus Drive Gyros for a fast chew after faculty. It was a preferred hangout with their basketball teammates.
E’Twaun was the star level guard and Kawann an influence ahead on the Cardinals’ 2006-07 group. Proprietor John Troupis recalled how the gamers, previous to sectionals, had assured him they had been going to win the 4A championship.
He made a deal. Win state and it’s all you’ll be able to eat.
The Cardinals superior by means of the tourney — knocking off Lowell, Munster, South Bend Adams, Valparaiso and Marion — for a shot at Indianapolis North Central, that includes highschool phenom Eric Gordon.
E.C. Central prevailed, 87-83.
It wasn’t lengthy after when Moore and Brief, holding the trophy, led the Cardinals into Columbus Drive Gyros and mentioned: “We’re actually hungry!’”