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Hangin' With Graham

Posted 03/11/2009 by Jake Hazan

Derrick Martin banner goes up in the TJ gym next to other Spartan stand-outs.

Derrick Martin adresses the crowd prior to the TJ-East varsity on February 10.

TJ alum Derrick Martin adresses the crowd prior to the TJ-East varsity basketball game on February 10.

Two commemorative alumni banners hung proudly in the TJ gym before the TJ-East basketball game on February 10th: those of Daniel Graham and Andre WoolfolkDerrick Martin, Cornerback for the Baltimore Ravens and 2003 TJ graduate, joined this elite group of Spartans-turned-pro on the south wall of the Thomas Jefferson gym.

Martin was a standout football, basketball, and track athlete at TJ and went on to continue his success at the University of Wyoming on an athletic scholarship.  At UW Martin played football and recorded 134 tackles, 21 pass deflections, two sacks, and six interceptions in 30 games.  Of the 30 games in which Martin played, he started in 24, clearly making a strong and immediate impact on Wyoming’s football program.

Prior to the game, Martin was introduced by Head Coach Grant Laman and welcomed by a packed house in the TJ gym; a gym where Martin spent much time during his high school days. (Martin was the TJ Memorial Randy Brewer Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year Award recipient in 2003).  His wife, Alexa – who is also a TJ graduate – and their 11-month-old son Derrick Jerome Martin III accompanied Martin.

“I encourage all of the students in here to keep your grades high and do well in school. School should be your first priority,” said Martin as he addressed the crowd.  “I am honored to be recognized with the banner and I hope to see you all at my camp this summer.”

Martin declared for the 2006 NFL Draft after his junior season at Wyoming and was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the final pick of the 6th round.  Martin is the only player to be drafted from Wyoming.  In his three years in the NFL Martin has posted 46 tackles and two interceptions in 28 games.

TJ Athletic Director Lani Nobles fondly remembers Martin’s ambition when he still roamed these halls as a Spartan.  “I remember Derrick pointing to the banner of Daniel Graham hanging in our gym, and telling me to save the spot next to it for him. At the time I laughed out loud and said, ‘Sure Derrick, I will save that spot for you,'” recalled Nobles. “He grinned his huge Derrick Martin smile and said, ‘I mean it Ms. Nobles, that spot will be mine.'”

Six years later, accompanied by a successful time in college and a blossoming NFL career, Martin’s wish came true.  His Spartan legacy now hangs with the cream of the crop for everyone who comes into the TJ gym to see. “I have to say a lot of kids dream big, but I believed Derrick.  Now we can hang him a banner in his honor,” said Nobles.

Since Martin made it big in the NFL he still hasn’t forgotten where he came from.  In 2008 Martin hosted the inaugural Derrick Martin Sportsfest in Denver to benefit the athletic department at TJ.  The Sportsfest included free football and cheerleading clinics, a celebrity basketball game and celebrity bowling.  Martin is planning on hosting the event again in 2009.

“He has already done some nice things for the community of Thomas Jefferson High School and we appreciate his support greatly,” said Nobles.