Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has formed a heartwarming friendship with cerebral palsy student AJ Starr, courtesy of WVTM-TV:
McCarron has won three BCS national championships with the Crimson Tide. He was a 2013 Heisman Trophy finalist and is a local Alabama celebrity. He has the accolades and skills that make him a collegiate superstar.
But McCarron's most impressive characteristics may originate off the field.
The Crimson Tide QB used to continually notice a young man watching Alabama practices through a small crack in a fence. No matter the weather, McCarron said AJ Starr would be there soaking up the environment.
One day after a rainy practice, McCarron spotted Starr's unsuccessful attempt at flagging down two buses to go home. With the rain pouring down that day, McCarron offered him a ride. He discussed his encounter with Starr in a CNN profile.
"I could tell, you know, he had some type of disorder," McCarron said. "And he tried to raise his hand at the bus, the two buses, and they just pulled off. And it was starting to rain. And so I felt bad."
Starr is a student at the University of Alabama living with cerebral palsy, a disorder of the brain and nervous system in which the nerves cannot correctly communicate with the muscles.
Starr accepted the ride from McCarron, and the two bonded while discussing their shared first name. McCarron considered it "a message from above." Starr went on to tell the quarterback his story, and how he has lived with cerebral palsy all his life because his umbilical cord was caught around his neck before birth.
After dropping Starr off, McCarron immediately contacted the Alabama director of football operations, Joe Pannunzio, to see if he could get the student a job with the team.
Pannunzio called McCarron back the next day with the news that Starr could help out in the equipment room. McCarron informed Starr of the unpaid job, and Starr accepted it, saying that he didn't even want to get paid, he just wanted to be around the team.
McCarron and Starr still share a special friendship to this day. Here's hoping the former has some good karma coming his way in the 2014 NFL draft.