KANSAS CITY — There he is, off to the side, in the shadows and away from the glare of the spotlight.
When Tony Temple is your cousin, best friend and teammate, getting lost in the glow isn’t difficult. Steve Redmond is used to it, and it doesn’t bother him much.
Redmond and Temple signed letters of intent Feb. 4 to play football at Missouri. Although many MU fans celebrated the gain of a star athlete such as Temple, many more missed that the Tigers were gaining something special in Redmond.
Mature and responsible beyond his 18 years, Redmond goes mostly unnoticed. At Rockhurst High, there is a pecking order for the great athletes, and Redmond falls in line somewhere behind Temple. None of this bothers Redmond, for he takes every comment and stare in stride.
Redmond said he prefers to avoid the attention after seeing the publicity surrounding his cousin.
“From everything I have seen the spotlight has a lot of negativity to it,” Redmond said. “There is nothing negative about me. I don’t hide anything and I handle my consequences like a man should.”
His recruitment was nothing like Temple’s. Although it seemed every college football program in America pined for Temple, Redmond quietly went about his business as Rockhurst’s shutdown defensive back.
Redmond didn’t receive much attention, and it was difficult to notice him because he didn’t make the flashy plays or score a touchdown on every possession. That is because most teams didn’t throw in his direction, usually opting to throw to the opposite side of the field.
Rockhurst coach Tony Severino said Redmond’s personality makes him a great addition to the Tigers.
“Steve Redmond is a very bright young man,” Severino said. “Potentially, he could be a great leader. He is a quiet guy, does his job and goes about his business with not a lot of flash.”
At 6-feet-1, 210 pounds, Redmond runs with an effortless stride and can outleap almost any receiver. He started playing cornerback a couple of years ago, and his potential is unlimited.
Redmond was always “that guy” growing up. The guy who was a few inches taller, a few strides faster and jumped higher than his peers.
His father was his coach for the first part of his athletic career, driving him to take advantage of his talents every day.
“My dad was the best coach I ever had,” Redmond said. “There were times I hated him because he pushed me so hard.”
Although his childhood might not have been normal compared with most kids his age, Redmond said it was a good foundation.
As an only child for nine years, Redmond built a set of walls around himself, not letting people in for fear that they might steer him in the wrong direction.
Then, his parents added two more kids to the family. First it was his brother, Benjamin, 9, and almost two years later a sister, AnnaLissa, 6. Redmond made it a goal to help his siblings have a good childhood, much like his.
Redmond excelled in track and basketball, usually leading his team to Amateur Athletic Union tournaments in places such as Florida and Texas. His family didn’t have much money, so those trips served as family vacations, a way to get away from troubles.
There was little doubt in Redmond’s mind that he would play sports in high school, but he didn’t know that football would be his sport of choice.
As Redmond began his freshman year at Rockhurst, everything started to change.
Most of the people who knew him as the star athlete began to catch up to him. He wasn’t the tallest or the fastest anymore. He started his first football season on the freshman team, watching Temple become a star for the varsity, something no player had done as a freshman for the Hawklets.
Redmond was convinced he wanted to play basketball. It was his first passion, and his trouble on the football field didn’t do much to change that. He broke his left ankle and couldn’t find a position to call home.
As bad as things were on the field, they were worse off it. Redmond’s parents were constantly arguing, causing Redmond to take care of his situation and, more often than not, his brother and sister.
Redmond is a good student and usually goes to class, but when he isn’t at school, the reason is almost always the same. He needed to stay home to take care of his siblings while his parents worked out their problems.
As the troubles mounted, Redmond tuned them out, using sports as his outlet and becoming apathetic toward drama in his life. He didn’t worry much about himself, but the thought of his brother and sister growing up in that environment was enough to drive him to move on.
“I had a good childhood,” Redmond said. “I don’t want them to not be able to be a kid. I am willing to give up a day of school just to make sure that they can do everything they want to do.”
Redmond’s life learning curve was sharper than most. It was clear to him that he needed to mature faster than everyone around him and he did his best to make sure he didn’t get into trouble.
Content to stay home and play video games or take his siblings to the park, Redmond attempted to avoid trouble as much as he did attention.
Temple said he admires his cousin’s ability to stay away from possible pitfalls.
“I love Steve,” Temple said. “He is a real strong man to do what he has to do. He doesn’t know or understand yet, but I would do anything for him.”
He wasn’t always able to stay away from the problems of high school. He never liked going to parties, so he was surprised when he found himself at one where most of the people in attendance were doing things Redmond said they shouldn’t be.
Not one to participate in many of the temptations of his peers, Redmond sat off to the side, talking to a friend when Temple came in the house and said the police had arrived.
Although he wasn’t drinking or doing anything wrong, Redmond was scared of guilt by association and took off running. The police chased and caught him, but he had done nothing wrong and they let him go. The close call was all Redmond needed to swear off parties.
“After that, it was no BS no more,” Redmond said. “If you want to see me or hang out with me, you come over to my house. That was it for me.”
Sophomore year brought little help to the situation. Redmond was convinced basketball was his niche, and he continued to struggle with football. He became a special teams player for the varsity, but didn’t feel as though he was playing up to his ability.
The family problems continued to bother Redmond. He remembers the night well, but certainly not fondly.
His parents argued and fought like usual, but this time it was different. Benjamin ran upstairs and told Redmond. Eventually, the police came, and Redmond took Benjamin and AnnaLissa somewhere else.
Redmond wasn’t worried for himself, but knowing his siblings had to watch it bothered him more than anything.
“I am indifferent; I can handle anything, but it really hurt me to see that in front of my brother and sister,” Redmond said. “My brother and sister, that is my heart. If something happens to them, then it isn’t going to be a pretty situation. They are just kids, growing up.
“I am trying to make it as normal as possible for them.”
BACK ON HIS FEET
By the time he was a junior, Redmond was finally drawing attention from colleges. He found a home at cornerback and felt comfortable at a position for the first time.
He became one of Rockhurst’s defensive leaders. The Hawklets romped to the state championship and Redmond’s recruitment heated up. After three years of basketball, Redmond decided football was his future.
He drew interest from Kansas, Arkansas, Michigan State and Missouri. It wasn’t easy for Redmond, though.
Instead of taking his time and evaluating each school, Redmond needed to worry about schools recruiting him to get to Temple.
On a visit to Kansas, the Jayhawks’ staff seemingly ignored Redmond when Temple was around.
“I was thinking about KU, but I didn’t like how I was being treated by coaches,” Redmond said. “That situation seemed to me to be like, ‘Well, if we get Steve, we can get Tony.”’
The Missouri coaching staff promised to look at Redmond and offer him a scholarship with the approval of Matt Eberflus, Missouri’s defensive coordinator.
The Tigers offered and Redmond promptly accepted in June.
Andy Hill, the receivers coach who led the recruitment of Redmond and Temple, said MU made it clear it wanted Redmond regardless of Temple’s decision.
“A lot of people said you are recruiting Steve to get to Tony and that is not true at all,” Hill said. “You recruit a guy because of his ability only. If he happens to have a teammate that is a bonus.”
After an early commitment, Redmond was ready to focus on his senior season. Rockhurst had high hopes, looking to continue the tidal wave of success it had in 2002, but it wasn’t to be.
Temple dislocated his left shoulder and missed most of the season. Redmond got few opportunities to make plays and struggled without Temple’s presence.
The Hawklets failed to win the state championship and didn’t live up to expectations.
Redmond said it was the worst possible way to end his high school career, but he couldn’t let it bother him; he had too many other responsibilities.
“The greatest gift God has given me is resiliency,” Redmond said. “Everybody gets knocked down, but life is about how fast you can get back up.”
With his high school days almost behind him, Redmond doesn’t worry much about attention or what might come. He said he has a bad case of “senioritis,” and looks forward to getting a new start in a new place.
Severino said he will miss Redmond, but will enjoy watching his progress.
“The thing I always remember about him is, when you look in his eyes and you are talking to him, you know you are getting right through,” Severino said.
“After five years, Missouri is going to have themselves a nice finished product. He will be a great player, but more importantly a great person for them.”
After graduation, Redmond plans to move into an apartment with Temple for the summer and learn Missouri’s program. He enjoys business and communications and hopes to work in one or both of those fields.
Redmond worries about what will become of his home situation, but said a big part of the reason he picked MU was its proximity to home. He readily acknowledges his fear for Benjamin and AnnaLissa, but he knows that the time to do something for himself is fast approaching.
“I need to be on my own,” Redmond said. “A lot of stuff that happened wasn’t my fault. My life could have been a lot easier, but people kept bringing bad things in and I had to deal with it.
“It knocked me down here and there, but if I could do it all over I wouldn’t take it back.”
Steve Redmond is ready to emerge from the shadows and make a name for himself. By all accounts, nobody deserves it more.