Atlanta Falcons rookie running back and Canisius High graduate Qadree Ollison will switch from No. 32 to No. 30 to honor his slain brother.
Ollison’s older brother, Lerowne “Rome” Harris was shot three times on the morning of Oct. 14, 2017, outside a gas station at 19th Street and Walnut Avenue in Niagara Falls. Harris was 35.
Ollison switched from No. 37 to No. 30 for his final season at Pitt, but the number was taken with the Falcons by fullback Ricky Ortiz. He was released on an injury settlement and Falcons coach Dan Quinn asked Ollison if he wanted to resume wearing No. 30. It is possible the switch might not take effect until Week 2, the Falcons' home opener against the Eagles.
"They've got to call and ask the league, but [Quinn] said it shouldn't be a problem,'' Ollison told ESPN. "A number is a number, but this means a little bit more to me. It's going to be really nice to have that. It's going to be exciting for everybody, just wearing that number and what it represents to me and my family.''
Rome Harris was Qadree Ollison’s first football idol. Though he was too young to recall watching Rome play for the old Niagara Falls High School, Qadree came to learn of his brother’s exploits in the Cataract Little Loop Football Association that their father ran for 20 years.
“I always used to hear stories about him in little league, from a lot of people around Niagara Falls talking about how great he was as a kid,” Qadree told The News last year. "As a kid, I used to try and break all his records in Cataract. Those were my goals.”
The last time Qadree Ollison saw his oldest brother was the first time Rome Harris came to watch him play at Pitt. He rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the opening game of the 2017 season.
“To be there in person was really rewarding for him," Qadree said. “I was also excited for him to have the opportunity to come and see me play. For me, I think it was something that God intended for it to happen.”
– Jonah Bronstein contributed to this report.