Hawkins: 'I don't wish that upon anybody'

As Jerald Hawkins watched the 2016 NFL Draft, he wished there was a special person beside him.

As a kid, he always watched the draft with his father, Warren Hawkins. The two would talk about the players selected, and father would tell son that one day that would be him.

View photos of Steelers 2016 4th round draft pick, OT Jerald Hawkins

But when Hawkins' time came, when it was his moment to be selected in the NFL Draft, the man that meant the most to him wasn't there.

Warren Hawkins died of a heart attack in 2012 at just 55 years old. He wasn't around to know that his son, the big offensive tackle from LSU, was selected by the Steelers in the fourth-round of the NFL Draft. But his son, he knew his father was there in spirit, something that helped guide him through it all.

"I remember when I was younger we would always watch the draft and he would say you are going to get that one day," said Hawkins. "It finally came true. Once I got that call, all I could do is thank God and thank him for all he did for me."

Hawkins admits it wasn't easy being without him, nor was it easy losing him when he was just developing as a college player. He had some rough moments, moments he possibly needed in order to grow.

"It was hard," said Hawkins. "I was in a slump for a good two months, missing class, digging myself into a deeper hole, until one of my teammates, Trai Turner, pulled me aside and said you have to get over it. I know you are grieving, but this is what will make you stronger. Mature from it and learn from it. I am glad he did that and took me under his wing. It made me the man I am today.

"It helped me mature even faster. I feel like I was still a kid, still a young man at 18. It was my freshman year. I saw him that Saturday and that Wednesday he passed away. I don't wish that upon anybody, especially that quick. He was there one second and gone the next. It made me realize take nothing for granted. It helped me mature even more."

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