Broncos' Knowshon Moreno overcame rough childhood

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno talks with

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno talks with reporters. (Jan. 27, 2014) Photo Credit: AP

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JERSEY CITY - There will be tears.

In the moments just before kickoff for Super Bowl XLVIII, the well of emotions inside Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno will open up, and tears will flow as the memories of everything that brought him to this point flood his mind.

Moreno's pregame cry was caught on camera before a Dec. 1 game at Kansas City, but he said Monday it's an involuntary response that happens before every game.

And Sunday's game against the Seahawks will be the most significant of his life, not just because it's the Super Bowl, but because MetLife Stadium is not far from where he was raised by his grandmother, Mildred McQueen, after spending the first 12 years of his life surviving a hardscrabble existence with his father, moving in and out of homeless shelters in the Bronx and Harlem.

Moreno knows his emotions at game time "will be through the roof. I think that will be my toughest battle, just being able to stay composed until the fires start burning down.

"I just get emotional. Everything is running through my head from when I was younger to now to put me in this position . . . Everyone goes through their own journey and has whatever it is that drives them to be better each day.''

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When Moreno's parents split up, he wound up with his father, Freddie, who eked out a living selling T-shirts. Sometimes they could afford an apartment, but more often they survived in homeless shelters.

"It's very special,'' Moreno said of those hard times. "Just learning from my experiences going in and out of shelters, that's part of life. It's how you battle back from that and see all the positive in the negative. I think I did a good job of that.''

Although he maintains a relationship with his father, Moreno was grateful when his maternal grandmother gained custody in Bronx Family Court and moved him to Belford, N.J., about 45 miles south of the Super Bowl site. His mother, Varashon, lives close by, but it was his grandmother who took charge of raising him.

"She played a big role,'' Moreno said. "She took me out of a difficult situation and put me in a better situation. She's a great little woman . . . She enjoyed every moment from Pop Warner to high school. She was at every game. College [at Georgia], she was at a lot of the games. We have a special bond that can never be broken. We're just enjoying the moment and not taking anything for granted.''

Moreno, 26, still holds the New Jersey high school career scoring record set with Middletown South, which was 36-0 his last three seasons and won three Central Jersey Group III titles. Before the Super Bowl, Moreno expects to visit with his high school coach, Steve Antonucci, and many former teammates and friends.

"It's just awesome to be home, to see the old faces,'' Moreno said. "It's special to get back with them and not forget where you're from. That was a special team. Putting all that hard work in and being rewarded with a trophy at the end of the season is what it's all about.''

His mind flashing forward to Sunday, Moreno added, "We're going to put our hearts on the line. When we raise that trophy, it's going to be awesome.''

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