LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When University of Louisville takes the field in their season opener, many eyes will be on Michael Dyer. He's the former Auburn player with a history of run-ins with drugs and guns. But Football Coach Charlie Strong believes in second chances - something a former player knows all too well.
Many UofL fans remember the name Darius Ashley. He was one of the top college running back prospects in the country. The Cincinnati St. X player had close to 50 scholarship offers. He chose to play for UofL under Coach Kragthrope. He didn't see much playing time in the 2008 season. In 2010 new Coach Charlie Strong suggested he switch to Defensive Back. Ashley wasn't happy, and burdened with problems at home too, he turned to alcohol.
"It's kind of easy to point to it and say alcohol was the issue," Ashley said. "But alcohol was the result of other things taking place in my life at that time."
The consequences were life-changing. Police arrested Ashley for DUI, two times in seven months.
In one of those instances Ashley was found passed out behind the wheel of his car at 2:30 in the morning at a fast food restaurant.
"Looking back at that you must think I'm so lucky?" I asked him.
"Yeah I'm very blessed, that's a life lesson you'll never forget."
He got another lesson, in second chances, from Coach Strong. He suspended Ashley from the team but allowed him to keep his scholarship and get his diploma.
At the time Strong said "He may never play another down for us, but we can help him and make sure that we can get him in the right direction."
Ashley said he learned a lot about himself.
"The biggest thing is I'm kind of stronger than I ever thought I was. And, you know, really learning to believe in yourself and believe in your dreams regardless of what's going on around you."
Ashley now dreams of starting his own marketing and management consulting firm. He's now in the MBA program at UofL and working full-time as a business analyst. He's offered to speak to current players about what he's learned, including Michael Dyer.
"I have never met him. I would say to him what I would say to everyone else. The opportunity you are given. It's a great opportunity. But ultimately it's only what you make of it," he said.
For Darius Ashley, he learned that lesson too late for football. But not too late for life.