New Era Calgary Flames

The dad was 53. The mentor coach was 43. The student athlete, unsteadily feeling his way through the starkly different culture that existed at Penn State, was devastated.

New Era Calgary Flames

New Era Calgary Flames

And he'll have a few words with his former coach and mentor, Nick Lynch, who was killed in an auto accident six months after the death of Hillard Bowman.

habits," Bowman said this week. "Every kid has habits and sometimes it takes a few mistakes to learn from them."

New Era Calgary Flames

New Era Calgary Flames

New Era Calgary Flames

New Era Calgary Flames

How could this be? It had been mere hours since Bowman talked with his old coach.

"I asked why?" Bowman recalled. "But God has a plan. Those things that happened, and they were sad times, tragedies in my life.

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time I talked to my best friend, I was expecting to hear something negative or tragic," Bowman recalled. "It's a street thing, and I had to be able to separate from the streets, to get right from wrong. That New Era Calgary Flames kept me going.

49ers' Bowman carries memories of two mentors

So there's no doubting the linebacker's sincerity when he says his path from perilous neighborhood to Penn State football to All Pro status with the 49ers has required careful navigation of avenues filled with pain and regret.

Sometimes NaVorro saw them and heard them. Other times, he ignored them. Now he sees them all the time. And he hears every word. He'll talk to both on Father's Day.

Bowman, who last month turned 25, might not be where he is legally wealthy, suddenly famous and highly respected without his guardians. There were two influential men at each major crossroads doing what they could to keep him straight.

He'll talk with his father, Hillard Bowman, who, in June 2008, died of complications from a blood clot.

That always was Bowman's fantasy. He was a punishing linebacker and a 1,200 yard running back at Suitland. If he kept it together, he might become an NFL star and get his folks out of the old neighborhood.

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"I'm not a saint. I've been around a lot of different things. But I know right from wrong, and I realized the opportunity I had before me."

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"I use those guys," he said. "I use those guys to get through every single day."

"When my father passed, I kind of wanted to throw in the towel," he said. "Just go home and do something to help my mom.

"The actions I got caught up in, they were young minded mistakes and a couple bad Adidas Cap

"But her being as strong as she is, she told me to stay in school, that my daddy wouldn't want me to quit. I carry that with me every day."

Hillard Bowman never missed a game. And just as his Jordan Caps For Sale

San Francisco 49ers' NaVorro Bowman (53) talks to the media at the New Orleans Marriott in New Orleans, La. on Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff)Nhat V. MeyerPropped up by Johncie Bowman's words and his father's spirit, NaVorro spent the next six months helping the Nittany Lions reach the 2009 Rose Bowl only to have an assistant coach tell him the night before the game that Lynch was dead.

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San Francisco 49ers' NaVorro Bowman (53) during minicamp at their training facility in Santa Clara, Calif. on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)SANTA CLARA NaVorro Bowman's eyes say so much, perhaps because they've seen so much, that they make their own statement before he introduces his grown man baritone.

"On the flip side, it made me work. It allowed me to realize that I have a chance to be the breadwinner, a chance to change not just my life, but also be in position to where my mom would never have to work again."

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Lynch massaged him through the episode. Bowman was the star of one of Lynch's two championship teams at Suitland High.

son prepared to re establish himself as a sophomore at PSU, the dad was gone.

Growing up surrounded by drugs and violence, Bowman struggled to make the transition to the relatively tranquil college community. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct and received a one year probation sentence.

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