There's a picture from the night of February 13, 2022, taken in the Los Angeles Rams locker room at SoFi Stadium.
In it stands a former undrafted college free agent posing with the Lombardi Trophy. But he isn't wearing his uniform. Nor is he donning world championship gear.
Grant Haley had packed more poignant attire for the postgame celebration. After months of grappling with voids in his personal and professional life, the Rams defensive back was able to deliver a much-needed moment of pure joy to his loved ones.
And he was paying tribute to the late Dr. Leon Haley, Jr. with a smile.
Haley lost his father in a tragic jet ski accident in July 2021. One day before he was scheduled to report to New Orleans Saints training camp, his mother called to inform him that Dr. Haley had passed at 56 years of age.
"It was, obviously, unbelievable grief," Grant Haley recalls, describing his dad as one of the centerpieces of his life even to this day. "But it was, what would my father want me to do? I know he raised me to be a man of character, a man to keep going when he isn't around."
Haley had lost a parent, and a month later, as NFL franchises trimmed their rosters for the regular season, he temporarily lost his dream job, as well.
Over the coming weeks, he worked out with eight different teams, hoping to extend his football career.
In October, the Rams finally offered him a spot on their practice squad. By December, he'd become a fixture on the active roster. He dressed and appeared on special teams in every game of the postseason run, including the Super Bowl.
"I'm very grateful to the Rams," Haley says. "Because it felt like, throughout that time, through the ups and downs, like I finally found my love again for football."
This week on Rams Revealed, the 26-year-old cornerback details another breakthrough moment in his career – last week's victory over the Cardinals, in which Haley was promoted from the practice squad to play 67 snaps on defense. He and the Los Angeles defense held Arizona without a touchdown.
But Haley also does an incredible job detailing his heartbreak and how he persevered.
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