By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala - Sometimes, a student-athlete's impact far exceeds what can be measured by statistics.
In the case of Jordan Diamond, that impact includes inspiring elementary school students from his hometown of Chicago.
When third-grade scholars from Schmid Elementary visited Auburn last fall, they instantly connected with the 6-foot-4, 304-pound offensive lineman who grew up not far from their neighborhood.
"I am so grateful that he came into our lives and the lives of our students," Schmid teacher Quinlan Matthew said. "We couldn't have asked for a better role model for our scholars."
"That's really big. That gets me emotional," Diamond said after hearing the Chicago educator's words. "Chicago's tough. It's tough growing up. It's tough being a kid. It's tough raising kids as adults. It's tough even being around other kids.
"But hopefully Chicago can use me as an example to realize there is hope," Diamond said. "There's hope in everything. And everything comes with patience, time and a great attitude. And being able to help whenever you can, without expecting anything in return."
Diamond announced on Twitter that he'll be leaving Auburn after he graduates next month.
Thanks Auburn Fans Family and Coaches, last time running through the smoke of Jordan Hare! You saved my life. WDE pic.twitter.com/OZ9bKx9niL
-- CM_76 (@Jordan76simeon) April 14, 2016
"Growing up on the streets of Chicago, I used football as a gateway to get out, and Auburn was that gateway to get out," he said.
"I just want to say, `Thank you.' Thank you to Auburn. Hopefully I left a good legacy of being a great person, of being a tough individual. I'm humbled," Diamond said. "I've been through some humbling things. Being a college football player is the most humbling experience that a young man can go through.
"I've been fortunate to build some good relations at Auburn with a few people. Met some great people. We've got the best fans in college football. Best coaching staff. Just everything. Coach (Gus) Malzahn's been good. He always had my back. Coach (Herb) Hand, I appreciate his time in spring ball. And all my teammates for allowing me to be the person I am," he said.
Diamond plans to work with young people after his football career ends.
"I want to start a foundation to help kids who don't have a place to go to do recreational things," he said. "Help them with education. Help them with simple things like tying a tie, working on resumes, things like that. I just want to build an overall recreational system."
Diamond would like to return to his hometown to provide that guidance.
"My message to Schmid and every young person in Chicago, or across the world is be a great team player. No matter what, you always need somebody to help you, and allow them to help you, and build off that to help the next person. That's how positive things go. That's how communities grow, is helping one another understand one's situation and ultimately building a great team," he said. "It's hard, but you've got to have faith, and you've got to have trust, and you've got to do it.
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) April 17, 2016
"Hopefully I impacted somebody in a positive way, whether it be a teammate, coach or a player. Just somebody, one person. Then I've done my job," Diamond said.
According to the inner-city teacher in Chicago whose students bonded with the big man, Diamond has impacted way more than just one person.
"Jordan gives me hope for our scholars and their future," Matthew said. "He is a credit to what it means to not only wear the Auburn uniform, but to walk the campus as an Auburn man."
"That's emotional right there for me," Diamond said. "That just made my day."
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer