Proud of Heisman winner adjusting to life in the South
By MICHAEL CASAGRANDE
NEW YORK — It was close to an hour after her son’s coronation and Shonda Ingram still waited for a quiet moment with Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner.
Saturday was a long day with a sweet ending for the slightly less recognizable parent of Mark Ingram. And the smile was hard to wipe from her face as she told reporters about her newly immortalized son from Flint, Mich.
Once the chaos subsided and the endless interviews ended, Shonda Ingram had a simple plan.
“I’m just going to give him a big hug and tell him congratulations,” she said. “I’m going to give him a big old hug. Then we get ready to focus on Jan. 7 and the national championship.”
The excitement of the Times Square celebration Saturday night was a long way from their Michigan hometown that’s seen it’s share of hard times in the epicenter of the nation’s automotive crisis. It was Mark Ingram Day in Flint on Saturday, and it’s favorite son delivered a shot of excitement by winning the closest Heisman vote in the award’s 75-year history.
The distance between Flint and Tuscaloosa was not a pleasant number for Shonda Ingram when Mark first came to the South to start his freshman year last fall.
“I remember the day we dropped him off and when we got back in the car, I had a big lump in my throat. I was like, I feel so bad,” she said. “I put my sunglasses on and didn’t talk for three hours because my feelings were hurt. I left my son 800 miles away.”
And 12-plus hours of driving away for the lone Northerner on the Crimson Tide roster.
It didn’t take long for Shonda Ingram’s worries to subside.
“When I went down for a game, and I got to see the whole team and everyone, I felt good about everything — I’m not upset,” she said.
On the topic of Ingram’s incarcerated father Mark Ingram Sr., Shonda Ingram said she was sure he was able to see the announcement on television from the Queens, N.Y., jail he now calls home, although she couldn’t say anything with complete certainty.
Despite being so close to the Heisman activities in Manhattan, the family had not seen Ingram Sr. as of Saturday evening, and there weren’t any plans in the works, she said.
At the time, Shonda Ingram was just looking forward to the hug and some quiet time for her even-more famous son Saturday night. The events kept them apart for most of the day that included a few happy tears.
Saturday’s emotion, though required no sunglasses for Shonda Ingram.
There was no sadness in Times Square on Saturday night — just pride for the mother of the nation’s top football player.