From Neville to New Orleans: Following the journey of LSU star defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence

LSU

Since Rashard Lawrence graduated from Neville in 2016, he’s grown to become the star of LSU’s defensive line.

The 2019 Fiesta Bowl MVP is looking to deliver a National Championship, when his Tigers face Clemson next Monday.

NBC 10’s Chris Demirdjian had a chance to catch up with Ronald Lawrence, the father of Rashard.

Ronald Lawrence

“Man shout out to Monroe, Louisiana, ” says Rashard Lawrence. “We’re coming home, man.”
We’ve seen Rashard Lawrence grow up before our very eyes. Of course, none more than his father, Ronald Lawrence.

Courtesy of the Lawrence family


“It’s been beautiful, ” says Lawrence. “It’s been awesome, you know. Knowing that I used to hold this kid in my arm, when we was a baby.”
He’s not a toddler anymore. He’s a 6″2, 308 pound 21 year old, now on the verge of helping LSU compete in the biggest game of the year. But, he nearly took his talents elsewhere.

Rashard commits to LSU


“When he was getting ready to come out of high school, he had a tough decision on where he was going to go to school, ” says Lawrence. “Came down to Ohio State or LSU. I told him, I said, ‘You know what son? Who would have thought that you’d be playing for a National Championship this year.”
Football is in the blood of the Lawrence family. After Ronald graduated from Carroll, he played quarterback during the Eddie Robinson era at Grambling. Ron’s brother Jimmy Dean played for LSU during the Bull Arnsparger term. Rashard aspired to follow in their footsteps – he nearly wasn’t allowed to.
“Rashard wanted to play pee-wee football, ” Lawrence remembers. “So, a guy that was over the registration said, ‘Mr. Lawrence, you cannot register Rashard today because we know he’s the youngest kid. But, he’s also the biggest kid.'”

Courtesy of the Lawrence family


He was eventually given the okay to play the game. But, at first, it’s not what Rashard wanted to do.
“Believe it or not, he wanted to be a drum major, ” Lawrence reflects. “Because, he was so in love with the band, the Carroll High School band.”
Eventually the young man came to his senses.
“When he left elementary school, he started playing junior high football, ” says Lawrence. “That’s when he realized this is something he wanted to pursue.”
He made the right choice! During his time at Neville he won back to back State Championships. He was an All-American. By his sophomore year in Baton Rouge, he was starting. But, the elder Lawrence’s emotions poured out for the first time, this season.

Rashard in New Orleans after winning the 2015 Class 4A Championship


“When they played Alabama this year, ok? I went up to him after the game and I couldn’t do anything but hug him, ” Lawrence says. “It actually brought tears to my eyes. I was always telling him, ‘You don’t be the only Lawrence that comes through this family and don’t beat Alabama.”
Beat the Crimson Tide? Check! Defeat the other Tigers in the National Championship? We’ll have to wait and see.

Rashard with Coach Ed Orgeron, after LSU’s win over Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl


“He said, ‘Dad, they’re just good in all phases of the game. It’s going to be who wants it the worst,'” Lawrence recalls. “Sometimes you get caught up in a game like that. You got to go out there, you got to want it badder than they want it.”

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