‘He was my role model’: New Jersey Generals star Darius Victor plays for his late brother
- The Victor Family escaping Liberia during Civil War
- The relationship between Darius and Kevin Victor
- Darius honors Kevin with the No. 7.
CANTON — Darius Victor is the last person to complain if things don’t go his way, especially on the football field. Because in his mind it could be worse. And Victor has dealt with worse in his life.
That includes the tragic death of older brother Kevin. And to this day, Darius honors his late brother's name while continuing his football career, which has him in Canton this spring as a star running back for the New Jersey Generals.
"I started playing football just because of him, and I wanted to be good and ended up being better than him," Victor told The Canton Repository recently.
Darius admired Kevin and considered him a role model throughout their childhood. They were inseparable brothers, doing everything together. It's understandable since they'd been through a lot as young boys growing up in a new country.
Darius Victory and his family left Liberia amid a civil war to come to United States
The Victors are a family of eight, which includes six children. Darius was a middle child, and Kevin was the oldest. Darius and three older siblings were born in Liberia. At the time, Liberia was in a civil war, which led to the Victors coming to the U.S. as refugees.
Darius, 5 at the time, doesn’t remember much from that period of his life. The hardest part for his parents was leaving family members behind. They found their way to the Washington, D.C. metro area to start their new life.
“My parents will always tell us (stories), from sleeping in bushes to ducking and hiding for our lives, being in a refugee camp and stuff like that," Victor said. "But I would always give people a reference from (movies) ‘Blood Diamonds’ and ‘Hotel Rhwanda.' Just being in that atmosphere and making it out there alive was a true blessing.
"I still talk to my dad about it and stuff like that. He had a lot of friends, people and neighbors, that he’d seen that were cut open or shot up due to the war. Just having that visual experience is very traumatic.”
Victor's parents worked nonstop to support their six children. As a middle child, his older siblings helped raise Victor and his two youngest siblings, who were born in America.
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Football furthers the bond between Kevin, Darius Victor
Kevin has always been tough on Darius. He convinced Darius to play football at age 8. Kevin was already playing, and Darius followed him to practices before coaches invited him to play.
“The funny thing is, my brother was really good, like one of those Boys and Girls Club legends,” Darius said. “My whole goal in life was to be better than him."
Football became serious for Darius once he scored his first touchdown on his first carry. A simple 40-yard pitch to the end zone was the first step of what became his football career. Then, entering his senior year in high school, Darius suffered a traumatic loss in his family. His brother Kevin was fatally shot in 2011 in the Brentwood neighborhood of D.C.. He was 21.
“Going into senior in high school, that was the hardest thing I had to deal with it because we were so close,” Darius said. “At that point in my life, he was my role model.”
Since Kevin’s passing, Darius has done everything to honor his brother. The No. 7 jersey number meant more to him because of what it stands for to him. Kevin and Darius were nicknamed Big Vick and Little Vick in reference to former NFL star and Virginia native Michael Vick, who wore the No. 7 jersey throughout his career. Darius is currently No. 27 for the Generals.
“As soon as seven was available, I switched to seven to honor my brother. I wore seven in high school and all my brothers wore seven, too. It’s a family number, and it started with him."
Toughness defines Darius Victor's approach to football
Darius also honors Kevin by the one trait that made him who he was. Toughness. Physically or mentally, Darius always keeps a level head as a tribute to Kevin because that’s how he raised his younger brother, no matter the situation.
“I always have that mindset that I’m tough,” Darius said. “Whether it’s next play or (telling myself) it’s not that big of a deal because that’s what he would’ve told me or yell at me.”
Darius went on to star at Towson University and is the school's third all-time leading rusher with 3,309 yards. He went undrafted in 2017 and signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a practice squad player. He bounced around the NFL and the XFL before settling with the Generals.
Last season, Victor rushed for 577 yards and nine touchdowns in the 10-game regular season, earning him USFL Offensive Player of the Year.
“I’m truly in a great position,” Darius said. “I’m blessed and truly grateful for the USFL and the opportunity that is provided, just allowing me to continue my dreams because my dream is always to be a professional football player.”
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