Ethan Hearn, who responded to his mom Lanie’s sudden death in November by helping Mobile Christian to the Class 3A football state championship game, was honored with the 2017 Jimmy Smothers Courage Award on Sunday night.
The award was presented to Hearn, a rising junior, at the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s annual convention in Birmingham. The award, named after longtime Gadsden Times sports editor Jimmy Smothers, honors a high school athlete who has overcome adversity and shown immense courage.
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Hearn returned from a Leopard playoff football practice on a Thursday night last November to find his mother dead of an apparent suicide. Though his teammates and coaches rushed to his house to comfort him that night, few expected Hearn to make the long trip to Oakman for Mobile Christian’s quarterfinal game.
The team loaded the bus early for the trip with no Hearn in sight.
“We were on the bus. We already had checked roll,” head coach Ronnie Cottrell said. “He was not there. Then, all of the sudden, Mr. (Billy) Hearn pulled up. Out jumped Ethan. He got on the bus ready to go.”
Not only did Hearn make the trip, he made 8.5 tackles in the victory that night and went on to help his team to the championship game. He also was a key part of Mobile Christian’s baseball success this spring.
“I think he’ll play that way for the rest of his life,” teammate Jake Brooks said after the Oakman game. “He’ll always have something – someone – special to play for.”