Have you ever been on ESPN? Yeah, neither have we. The prospect of being featured by the worldwide leader in sports may seem highly unlikely for most of us, but for Jamie Freeman, the football team janitor from Greenwood High School in Arkansas, who also has cerebral palsy, that is exactly what happened. Jamie was featured on ESPN’s (among many others) social media channels after he was presented with a football championship ring by the Greenwood football team, celebrating the victory of the 10th State Championship in school history.
ESPN's post went viral and as Signature had the pleasure of crafting Greenwood’s rings, we wanted to hear more of Jamie’s championship story. We had the pleasure of connecting with Jamie and what we heard wasn’t the typical sports story. Instead, what we heard was a message about hope, faith, and love.
But we’ll let Jamie speak in his own words:
Signature: How did you get involved with the football program and how long have you been apart of it?
Jamie: I began working for the Greenwood Schools in September of 2019. At the time, I owned my own vending company. I ran my own vending route for about ten years. Self-employment certainly has its advantages, but I reached a point where I needed something new. When the opportunity came to work for Greenwood, I jumped on it!
Signature: What has being apart of the Greenwood community meant to you?
Jamie: The Greenwood community has a unique history of accepting and caring for others, partially those with special needs. In my mom’s day, it was a man named Cephas Peters. Like me, Cephas had Cerebral Palsy. Though He couldn’t drive a car, He could be seen all over town in his golf cart. Cephas was a beloved baseball coach and member of the Greenwood community. To say that his funeral was packed, when he passed away, would be an understatement. The whole town showed up! This is the type of people that call Greenwood home and it’s a joy to be apart of such a community.
Signature: What's your life like away from football?
Jamie: When I was a kid, my mom wondered if I’d ever get married. Would there be a girl for her special needs son? It was her joy, on Saturday, May 13th, 2006 to watch as I married the girl of my dreams! Her name is Suerene. Almost fifteen years later she, somehow, still looks at me with those dreamy eyes like when we were dating. She is a rare jewel! We’ve walked through a lot together. In these fifteen years we’ve had five kids (yes, five!).
Our oldest was born with special needs much more severe than mine. He’s now thirteen. Caring for him has taught us much. Though we’ve endured many hardships, God has used trials we’ve walked through to mold for us trophies of grace. He’s taught us of a redeeming love.
I love to write. My first book was published in 2014. In it, I got to share some of our story. It’s titled “Though He Slay Me: Seeing God as Good in Suffering.” Our joy has become enjoying one another and the beauties of Christ, chiefly seen in the Cross.
(Note: Jamie just released a brand new book that you can get by clicking here!)
Signature: What was your first thought when the team presented you with your ring?
Jamie: Coach Young had told me to be at the ring ceremony because the boys wanted to give me a hat. So, during the ceremony, when they called my name I went forward. There was a hat sitting on the table. I picked it up and there was a ring under it. For some reason, I didn’t consider that the ring was for me- I was happy with my hat. I turned to leave and they stopped me. “No, that ring is for you!” I was shocked. Though I always liked playing sports and had wished I could play in high school (but couldn’t because I have Cerebral Palsy), I never thought I’d get to have a championship ring. To be made a part of the team, like that, was very special!
Signature: What does having that ring mean to you?
Jamie: It means being a part of something bigger than myself. It means being on a team! It reminds me of the kindness and generosity of others!
Signature: What message would you like to share with people who end up interacting with your story?
Jamie: My story is one of amazing grace. When I was born, the doctors told my parents to not expect me to walk or talk. I have been so loved and taken care of by my heavenly Father. All I have ever needed, His hands have provided. In the words of the old hymn, “redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die.”
Signature had the pleasure of crafting Greenwood’s championship rings this year, and our connection with Jamie has reminded us of why we started making rings in the first place;
Celebrating people who are worth celebrating.