UNDATED (WLOX) - Louisville sophomore wide receiver Jaylen Smith announced via Twitter that he is changing his jersey number for the 2016 season.
Instead of continuing to wear the No. 87 that he sported during his freshman season for the Cardinals, Smith will instead wear No. 9.
The change is in remembrance of former Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive lineman Keith Joseph Junior, a.k.a. Marshean, who died in a car accident last November along with his father, Keith Sr.
Smith played with MJ at Pascagoula, where Keith Jr. wore the No. 9 and showed to the Mississippi State football program that he was more than worthy of playing at his father's alma mater.
The gesture made by Smith, while only a number change, caught my eye immediately because it reminded me of yet another reason why we're fans of football, and role models like Jaylen.
Character. Compassion. Love.
It's also why we play, and follow, sports. Not just because we enjoy it, but because of the lasting relationships that keep us motivated.
When Smith puts on the game jersey prior to the Cards' season opener against Charlotte September 1, is there any doubt that his emotions will be flying around faster than MJ did when he was speeding beyond offensive linemen?
Stories like this are why I continue to be a part of the media business. Not only because I cross paths with current and future celebrities, but because I'm interested to learn about what makes them human just like the rest of us.
We aren't all robots, or working solely for the paycheck or fame. We continue doing what we love because it makes us happy, and keeps us at peace.