A ‘Wise’ choice

Deatrich Wise, Jr.



ST. PETERSBURG — Deatrich Wise, Jr. does not remember much about his birthplace. He had no real knowledge of the turf at Tropicana Field or the powdery white sands of St. Pete Beach.

His football uniform consisted of a cotton onesie with printed team letters and a football sewn on it. His athletic turf was a play pin with his new found family that included Joshua and Rod, all born within weeks of each other. Sucking on pacifiers, they all embraced the joys of life – without responsibility.

Deatrich Wise, Jr.

Deatrich Wise, Jr.

“I don’t remember much about living in St. Petersburg, but the stories that I’m told and the pictures that I look at shows that I had an enjoyable time while I was here,” said Deatrich. My parents often spoke of the incredible people in St. Petersburg who were our Florida family. There is so much love for us in this area that I couldn’t wait to come back.”

As a youngster, Deatrich took many trips to football games at Tropicana Field. His father, Deatrich Wise Sr. was a standout defensive lineman for the Arena Football League’sTampa Bay Storm. Wise Sr. was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the 1988 NFL Draft.  He spent time with the New Orleans Saints in 1989, and played for the BC Lions from 1990 to 1991.

Wise Sr. was a member of the Tampa Bay Storm from 1992 to 1995, earning First Team All-Arena honors in 1993. An injury ended his playing career, so he began coaching, spending a few years with the Storm before leaving the area.

Deatrich was two years old when his parents parted for Alabama. His father began teaching there before being called to coach at Delaware State University. He then became head coach of the AFL’s Norfolk Nighthawks and later the Dallas Desperados.

Still young, he just traveled along in the loving arms of his mother with no cares in the world. The important things in life at that time were warm milk, a clean diaper and food to eat.

As time went on, going to the football stadium meant hanging out with dad after practice, and being chased by big football players who brought playful joy to “Lil Deatrich.” That was then and this is now.

Deatrich Wise Sr. and wife, Sheila

Deatrich Wise Sr. and wife, Sheila

This past weekend, Deatrich returned to his Florida family and the turf of Tropicana Field, where he was once the chased in a friendly game of tag with big football players. Now he is the big football player who is a defensive end chaser in the East–West Shrine game.

“Man, this is some good stuff. It’s amazing how God has brought us full circle. We’re right back where it all started,” said Wise, Sr., with his wife Sheila nodding in agreement. “Who could have known that a football game would bring us all back together again? We’ve been wanting to come back to visit and now we are here.”

The East–West Shrine Game is an annual postseason college football all-star game played each January since 1925. The game is sponsored by the fraternal group Shriners International, and the net proceeds are earmarked to some of the Shrine’s charitable works, most notably the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

More than 90 players signed with professional teams last spring, and more than 70 made final NFL rosters. On average, more than 265 East-West Shrine Game alumni are on NFL rosters each year. The players are selected based on their potential to make an NFL roster.

Deatrich’s homecoming was a trip to remember. He wore #99 for the West team and played on the same turf in Tropicana Field where his father once played. On that day, junior played the starring role.  He recorded 8 total tackles (7 unassisted), 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, four quarterback hurries and was a candidate for outstanding player honors.

The family ended the evening at his grandmother’s house enjoying smoked turkey, collard greens and potato pie. For Deatrich, this Florida return was a Wise choice!

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