CLEVELAND-- Draft night was a dream come true for Denzel Ward, the Nordonia High School star and All-Big Ten phenom at Ohio State.
The Cleveland Browns selected the defensive back with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
"It was just crazy because, to grow up here in Cleveland and Ohio State, and get drafted by my hometown. It was a great feeling and I'm glad my family was there to spend that time with me," Denzel Ward said.
Ward is dedicating his career to his loving mother and the memory of his father. FOX 8's Wayne Dawson sat down with the mom and son the day before Mother's Day.
"It was always set in Denzel's mind he was going to the NFL. It was either the NFL or the NBA," Nicole Ward said. "As a parent, I always told him you have to have a plan B. You've got to have something to fall back on."
Nicole is extremely proud of her son, but the family is still dealing with the loss of her high school sweetheart and husband. Paul Ward, 46, passed away from a heart attack on May 2, 2016. He was the principal for Carylwood Intermediate School in the Bedford City School District.
"It's been very difficult because it was unexpected. But at the same time, I just reflect on his life and how he lived and how he was involved in the boy's life," Nicole said.
The future is bright for Denzel, anchored by the memory of his father and the ever-present voice of his loving mother.
"I know he's excited for me and he's going to continue to look down and watch me do great things," Denzel said. "I believe him and my mom made me the man I am today. And that's just being humble and the way I carry myself on the field and off the field."