When Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb sits at the 37th Annual Ed Block Courage Awards gala tonight at The Hilton Downtown Baltimore, thoughts of his mother will likely flash to mind.
Webb is the one who went through two major knee injuries (ACL tears in both knees) to come back and still play at a high level. That's why his teammates voted him as this year's representative.
But his mother's example gave Webb his fighting spirit.
In an interview about his perseverance, Webb said his mother had a drug addiction when he was growing up. Witnessing her overcome it was an inspiration.
"I never knew whether my mom would ever stop, never knew that she would ever get over it," Webb said. "But she did. It was just amazing to not have to grow up with that anymore."
Webb was born and raised in small-town eastern Alabama, not far from Auburn University. He saw other kids' parents also struggling with drug additions, and still sees them dealing with it now when he returns home.
Not his mom, though. As Webb spoke of her, he beamed with pride.
"She did it," Webb said of beating the addiction. "So why can't I be able to do anything I want to do? She was able to."
Webb tore his ACL for the first time during his rookie season, on Dec. 20, 2009, just when he was starting to emerge as a defensive difference-maker. He eased back into his sophomore season, then returned to the starting rotation in 2011.
Before the 2012 season, Webb signed a six-year deal worth a reported $50 million. He tore his other ACL six games into that year.
"I was thinking I had to prove my worth, [then] I tore my second ACL," Webb said. "That hit my heart real deep."
Webb had to sit on the sideline during the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII victory. Those teammates that helped get him get a ring are the same ones Webb credits for helping him rebound from yet another season-ending injury.
Webb returned to start all 16 games during the 2013 season before the injury bug returned again last July. He missed three contests last year because of back and groin injuries, but fought through those ailments for much of the season and finished strong, including sealing the Ravens' trip back to the playoffs with an interception against the Browns in Week 17.
"I can't be stopped," Webb said. "Failing is not falling down. It's just about, are you willing to get back up? It's easy to fall down. It's easy to lose it all. The hard part is when you're trying to get it back."
Now Webb wants to be an example to his child, a baby boy that's on the way.
"I want him to look up to me and say, 'Dad, you never quit,'" Webb said. "No matter what comes in his way, what obstacle – hard or easy – he knows he can get through it because his daddy did it."