ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Louis Delmas acknowledges trying his best to forget some details about his youth.
The Detroit Lions rookie safety, though, says one day about a dozen years ago is vivid because it was the last time he saw his drug-dealing parents.
“All I remember is going to the police station and from that day, not seeing my parents again,” Delmas said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz said Thursday that Delmas has been going through “a real trying time,” watching team drills because of his sore left knee.
Delmas’ on-the-field experience, though, is not as difficult as what he said he went through when he was about 10 years old in Sarasota, Fla.
He recalls his parents, Louissaneau Delmas and Jean Baptiste, making money without working because they were selling drugs.
It didn’t affect his care-free childhood until he says police came to take his parents away in one car and handcuffed him and two siblings, putting them in another vehicle.
His parents and the rest of his extended family was “sent back to Haiti,” he said, and that left him to start a new life as he moved in with his father’s friend in South Florida when he was in the sixth grade.
Delmas is thankful for the role models who stepped in to help him make good choices in North Miami Beach, where he said life was “fast,” and at Western Michigan to allow his talents to shine enough to make him a second-round pick in the NFL draft.
North Miami Beach high school football coach Jeff Bertani said he met Delmas as a ninth-grader and remembers his first impression of him as a “scrawny kid who played with a lot of tenacity,” whose passion was football.
“I would pick him up at 5 a.m. and he would watch film with me until 9 p.m.,” Bertani recalled. “He hasn’t really gotten the credit he deserves for being a student of the game and staying out of trouble, unlike a lot of kids around him in Miami.”
Delmas said he was adopted by Sandra Biggers, whose son, E.J., was his friend and teammate in Florida and later in college. When the assistants — George McDonald and Scott Shafer — who recruited him to Kalamazoo left for other jobs, coach Bill Cubit filled a huge role.
“Coach Cubit took me under his wing, inviting me over to his house for dinner and to jump in the pool,” Delmas said. “He was like a father figure instead of just being a coach.”
Delmas has daily reminders of his parents on his body with tattoos of shooting stars with their names reaching up to each shoulder.
“Ever since I lost them, they’re basically angels to me,” he explained.
Wherever his parents are, they would be probably be proud of the 22-year-old man he has become.
The native of Fort Pierce, Fla., plans on completing his degree in family studies with three more classes after a season in which he hopes to be a standout for a turnaround team.