‘He will always be my son’: Mother defends former football standout after latest arrest


A former football standout from Fresno whose NFL prospects were derailed by repeated run-ins with the law has been arrested once again on suspicion of theft and drug possession.

On Saturday, 25-year-old Cliff Harris, a former Oregon Ducks cornerback, was taken into custody by a Clovis, Calif., police officer investigating a disturbance at a party supply store just after 6:30 p.m.

“Harris was booked into Fresno County Jail for theft, possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia, and revocation of post-release community supervision,” the department said.


The episode is the latest in a string of incidents that have foiled the Edison High School alum’s NFL ambitions and prompted his mother to publish an anguished defense of her son on Facebook.

“Many of you will laugh, mock and make jokes… And it’s ok if that’s what you want to do..,” wrote Lizette Harris. “Regardless of Cliff going through one of the hardest times of his life, regardless of him fighting through all the demons that’s trying destroy him and regardless that he never became that NFL LOCK DOWN CORNER. He will always be my son.”

Her plea that friends and family pray for her son was made all the more poignant by the release of a booking photographed of a glowering, unkempt Harris that was shared widely on social media.

In 2015, Harris was placed on probation for three years and sentenced to a year in jail in connection with setting a grass fire in Fresno.

During his sentencing, a court-appointed psychiatrist told a Fresno County judge that Harris had the degenerative brain disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the Fresno Bee reported. Athletes whose heads are repeatedly exposed to blunt force trauma and can develop the disease.

The judge ordered Harris to continue taking psychotropic medication as well as maintain his appointments, according to court records.


The Fresno native’s football career began at Edison High School and then continued at the University of Oregon, where he was named an All-American as a kick returner in 2010.

The following year however, Harris was kicked off the team after he was stopped by a state trooper for allegedly driving 118 mph on a suspended license.

Despite that setback, Harris signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in April 2012, but was released a few months later.

At the time, Harris talked about his troubles and told an Eagles reporter, “I was young at the time and I made some young mistakes and I’ve matured from it.”

In January of 2013, he was signed by the New York Jets, but was cut after being arrested on a marijuana possession charge.


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