Local Clemson supporter Damon West happy for LSU’s Kary Vincent Jr.

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, January 15, 2020

The College Football Playoff title game had two Port Arthur connections.

One was Kary Vincent Jr., a junior nickelback for LSU who was an All-American performer at Memorial High School. The other was former Thomas Jefferson High School quarterback Damon West.

Author of a Wall Street Journal bestselling book, West watched the game in support of Clemson, a team that adopted his motto “Be a Coffee Bean.” Still, West complimented fellow Port Arthuran Kary Vincent Jr. and LSU’s run to the championship.

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“That LSU team, it may be the best college football team ever,” West said. “They beat eight top-10 teams to win the national championship. Three of those teams were in the top four. I loved being at the game. I’m grateful I got to see LSU play, [Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback] Joe Burrow play in person and see Kary Vincent play in the national championship game.”

West recalls watching Vincent’s father Kary Sr. play at Thomas Jefferson High School in the 1980s. Vincent Sr., who played at Texas A&M University and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1992, was his son’s cornerbacks coach at Memorial before passing away in 2018 at age 49.

“I grew up watching [Vincent Jr.’s] dad Kary Vincent Sr. play ball,” West said. “He made me want to play football. Now getting to see the son play — and he’s even better than his father — it was such a treat to watch Kary Vincent Jr. play for the national championship. It made me so proud. I grew up with Kary Jr.’s mom, Montrelle Shedrick. Getting to watch Kary Sr. play and growing up with Montrelle, it made it more special.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney and his players often wear a shirt reading West’s motto with Clemson’s iconic tiger-paw logo.

Clemson hosted West for a motivational speech in 2017. West, who now resides in Nederland, has remained close to Swinney and the program since.

“I don’t have any problem saying I was rooting for Clemson,” West said. “Clemson and Dabo Swinney brought me in to their amazing culture. They made my message part of their culture. Of course, I’m going to root for Clemson, but that doesn’t mean I’m not as excited as I can be for a Port Arthur guy to win a championship.

“I’m a Port Arthur fan, and last night I got to see a great championship game.”

West’s message inspires individuals to change the environment around them like a coffee bean in hot water, rather than being hardened or softened by it. His books, The Change Agent: How a Former College QB Sentenced to Life in Prison Transformed His World and bestselling The Coffee Bean: A Simple Lesson to Create Positive Change (co-written with Jon Gordon) have become popular among football circles.

His message has inspired high school, college and professional athletes including Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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