One former Arkansas State Football player got the birthday present he had always longed for.
Reigning Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Joiner has had his share of trials and tribulations, but he will be the first to say he has become the man he is today due to the mistakes he made earlier in his life.
Joiner has put the past behind him and has focused his life about the future, which now includes a chance to play in the NFL, seeing his childhood dream finally coming true.
He celebrated his 23rd birthday this past Saturday, he ended up getting a couple of surprises on his special day.
"My mom told me to be at the house at 7:45 p.m., when I got there no one was there," Joiner told AStateNation Sports Radio. "My friend stopped by and told me he was taking me to dinner for my birthday. They had planned a big birthday party for me, it was a total surprise with all of my family and friends there."
That wasn't the only surprise Joiner received Saturday.
"I went fishing with my mom, trying to relax and not stress about the NFL Draft," Joiner said. "My phone started messing up, I wasn't getting a good signal. When the Bengals called, I dropped the call, I was scrambling to get mom to call the number back."
The emotions of getting the news that a team took a chance on Joiner was more than he could handle.
"I'll be honest, I cried, I cried like a man," Joiner said. "It's such a relief to know that I will get the opportunity, the chance to play football in the NFL. I give God the credit for the doors he has opened for me. My life change, once I allowed God in it."
Joiner's first call was to ask him about his interest in playing for Cincinnati, the Bengals then called his agent then the standout defender got the call from the GM of the Bengals.
"I was juggling both phones at the same time, my agent called and the G.M. called at the same time," Joiner said. "I haven't seen my mom smile that much in a very long time."
Joiner, who played with his hand down at the defensive end position for the Red Wolves, will be playing stand up linebacker for the Bengals. Joiner is excited about the opportunity and will do whatever his newest team wants of him.
"I fly out there next Thursday for a mini camp," Joiner said. "I'm still working hard on my classes, I want to finish up strong there as well."
Joiner has intentions of getting that diploma in hand before beginning the next journey of his life.
"Getting my diploma is very important to me and my mom," Joiner said. "It's something that I have to get. To have that paper saying I have walked away with something special."
Joiner is very relieved the stress is over and the decision has been made for the next level of his life.
"It's an amazing feeling," Joiner said. "There were points in my life I was sure I was going to accomplish getting my diploma and getting the opportunity to play in the NFL. Now both are going to be accomplished, it's a great weight lifted off of my shoulders. I give God the credit for what he has done in my life."
Joiner plans on taking care of his mother as his career in the NFL takes off.
"First thing I will do is to do something special for my mom, help her pay some of her debts off," Joiner said. "She has always been there for me, believing in me when no one else did."