Marcus Lattimore is staring down another long road to recovery just two months after returning to the field from a major injury. While the journey will once again be difficult, he can fight on knowing there are a lot of people rooting for him.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Lattimore told him he's coming back despite serious injuries, according to the Associated Press (h/t USAToday.com). Spurrier was speaking at a rally where more than 1,000 fans showed up to support the star running back.
His injuries include a knee dislocation and ligament damage. Even though he seems to have his mind set on getting back on the field, there's no realistic timetable for how long it will take the dynamic playmaker to fully recover.
Not only did Lattimore feel the love from Gamecocks fans, but there has been an outpouring of support from every walk of life on social media as well. Most of the messages are similar to the one posted by Miami Heat star LeBron James:
Feel awful for Marcus Lattimore. Sad.Really hope he recovers fully!! #BigTimePlayer— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2012
While social media messages might not seem like a lot, knowing people are cheering for him to make it all the way back is a tremendous motivational tool for Lattimore. He's not only working hard for himself, but for his growing legion of supporters too.
The rehab trek can be a lonely one, especially for an athlete who's used to spending most of his time in a locker room filled with an entire football team. Doing it twice in as many years probably feels like a recurring nightmare.
Yet, Lattimore can attack the challenges ahead knowing he's not alone, and that should make it at least a little bit easier. The light at the end of the tunnel is still far off in the distance, so that support will be crucial along the way.
As Lattimore proved before getting hurt, he's still one of the most dangerous backs in the country when healthy. He scored at least one touchdown in all but a single game this season, with a total of 11 in nine games for the No. 8 Gamecocks.
So even though Spurrier doesn't know when his star will be ready to return, he will welcome him back with open arms whenever that day arrives. And, as shown by all the messages over the past week, there are people around the country waiting for it as well.
Lattimore is clearly a motivated person to begin with, but all the extra support should help him keep his eyes on the prize: a return to the field.