We've all seen enough of Marshawn Lynch to know it takes two or three men to bring him down. It generally takes one woman to pick him back up. His mom.
Lynch is as close as can be to his mom, Delisa Lynch, who raised four kids alone in Oakland, Calif. He has a tattoo on his back that reads "Mama's Boy." Lynch went to Cal-Berkeley so he could be close to home.
Before the NFL draft, Lynch promised he would bring his mom to the city that picked him and buy her a house. Last month, after some hesitation, Delisa moved to Buffalo with Marshawn's youngest sibling, Davonte (or Boo Boo), who is enrolled at Frontier High and playing on the basketball team.
Today, the Bills' rookie running back celebrates his first Thanksgiving as a pro. Boo Boo will be there. His uncle and cousin came up from Atlanta to help eat the turkey. But for the first time in his life, Marshawn will spend the holiday without his mother. She's back in Oakland, distributing turkeys Marshawn purchased for needy folks there.
"We're having a turkey drive that she's taking care of," Lynch said Wednesday. "This will be our first [Thanksgiving] not together. But we've got to handle our business. This is more important."
Lynch said it's been a tough couple of weeks, recovering from the ankle sprain he suffered in the Miami game. It killed him to miss the New England game. He believes he'll be ready for Jacksonville. He didn't practice Wednesday and Dick Jauron said he's not optimistic.
But at every difficult time in his young life, Lynch was grateful for family. He brightened at the thought of his mother handing out turkeys back home. Delisa is well-known in the tough streets of Oakland. Marshawn was riding in a car once that was hit by random gunfire. As legend has it, the shooter called Delisa half an hour later to apologize.
Delisa was back in the streets this week, distributing food. "Just the Oakland community," Marshawn said. "My neighborhood, churches, Boys and Girls clubs. She even took a couple to her old workplace at the phone company."
Today, there will be a gathering at Oakland Tech, his old high school. Kevin Parker, who was a big influence on Marshawn, is helping run the event. They'll have live music. The Salvation Army is coming to serve cookies and coffee. His mom will be back in town next week.
Delisa loves the way Buffalo has embraced her son. And she is used to seeing Lynch fight his way through half the defensive team before going down.
"It used to bother me," she said. "He would never want to go down. I'd say, 'Marshawn, just go down. It's OK.' He told me he'd get hurt if he ever started to think that way. He said nobody can ever tell you how much your body can take."
Marshawn made a similar point Wednesday. He knows Jauron isn't optimistic about his chances of playing.
"But he's just a person," Lynch said. "Unless you have that injury, you never know how long it will take for somebody to heal. People have different body types. You never can tell. But when it's out of your hands, all you can do is sit back and hope for the best."
He's desperate to get back out there. Lynch is the Bills' most indispensable player, and he's only a rookie. He was fifth in the NFL in rushing when he got hurt, second in carries. He's been a physical marvel. It's hard to imagine the offense thriving on the road, against a very good team, without him.
"I just come in and go to work," Lynch said. "That's all. I just let everything else take care of itself. Life goes on. It won't be hard for me to smile [today]. I've still got life. I'm 21 years old. There's a lot to be thankful for."