Anthony Jefferson Jr., UCLA safety, has persevered his whole life.
Anthony Jefferson Sr. has been there each step of the way.
The payoff has come. A junior, the younger Jefferson is a key part of the UCLA defense. He is second on the team in tackles with 53 and in interceptions with two.
His father, with no lack of pride, said, "We're seeing the promise everyone thought he had."
It's the reward for a long, often painful journey for both.
Jefferson's mother died in a car accident when he was 2 years old. He and his father became inseparable. He was set to attend Oregon, then learned his grandfather had prostate and lung cancer. He opted to stay close to home and chose UCLA.
The decision led to more trials.
Jefferson spent his first three seasons at UCLA in pain and uncertainty, first because of a broken foot and then because of a back injury. His father could only watch and offer encouragement.
"I'm his dad, but I'm also his friend, his confidant," he said. "It was difficult for him because he couldn't do what he was used to doing. It was hard for me because all I could do was tell him to be patient."
The wait is over.
Jefferson was a force last week against an Oregon team that may have the nation's best offense. He had 13 tackles.
In a 41-21 victory over Nebraska, the week that teammate Nick Pasquale died after being hit by a car, Jefferson pounced on a fumble in the fourth quarter. He then sprinted to the sideline to hand the ball to Coach Jim Mora so it could be given to the Pasquale family.
"He's fiery," receiver Shaquelle Evans said. "It gets us all going."
Jefferson made a diving interception against Utah, then popped up and crossed his arms. "That swag looked awesome," linebacker Jordan Zumwalt said.
Mora sees it as passion from a player denied too long.
"When he says something, players tune in and respond," Mora said. "They understand what he has gone through."
Some things they don't know.
Jefferson has no memories of his mother, Alyce Carter, who died when the elder Jefferson was at Sonoma State, a defensive back who had signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
"I left the funeral and went right to training camp," Jefferson said. "It didn't work out. Too much was going on."
Jefferson played in the Canadian Football League with Saskatchewan but soon returned to raise his son. His parents, Clyde and Annie Jefferson, helped as did his wife, Raquel, whom he married 13 years ago. The couple have two other children.