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There’s so much more to the cliffhanger national championship college football game that captured the attention of millions on Jan. 9. The Clemson Tigers entered the game as the underdog and defeated the most dominant college football program in a decade, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The victory began years ago in the towns of Pelham, Ala., and Gainesville, Ga., with two young boys whose lives would feature significant trials and adversity.

In a chapel sermon delivered by former NFL player C.L. “Shep” Shepherd earlier this season, Clemson players and coaches who chose to attend heard a message about adversity. “The best teacher in life is not success, “ he proclaimed. “It’s adversity.”

That message rang loud and clear when Clemson was unexpectedly beaten by the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers. What should have been an easy win for the Tigers became an obstacle that proved to make them stronger.

Coach Dabo Swinney was born to a mother, Carol, who at an early age overcame polio. Her dreams of a family and a stable home quickly diminished when her husband, Ervil Swinney, turned to alcohol to cope with his problems.

Swinney, his mom and brothers were left to fend for themselves. At times they were homeless. Those experiences instilled fierce determination in Swinney to provide for his mother, and to win back his father by making him proud. Click here to read article.