Issac Redman of Bowie State University

The lawyers cost money but they could keep her son out of jail, so Leslie Redman kept paying them until there was nothing left and she had to declare bankruptcy. Soon came the creditors to collect for the various unpaid bills, and they took the car and the house. Her husband vanished, leaving her with just her daughter and her son, Isaac, who prosecutors threatened to send to prison for 20 years.  There was no way she’d let that happen.

“We can always get another house,” she told her children.

So if you think the Pittsburgh Steelers lost something big when running back Rashard Mendenhall went down with a knee injury, that they won’t be able to replace him with someone as driven, as relentless, then you don’t know about Isaac Redman, the man who will line up in his place against the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC wild-card contest. Redman once had everything – big colleges knocking at his door, the promise of a bright career, a smooth ride to the NFL. Then, the schools, the house, his reputation and everything else were all gone. And building it all back has been a far longer process.

“My mom stood by me,” he says. “She sacrificed everything.”

He was a high school star in Paulsboro, N.J., a town just outside Camden in the Philadelphia suburbs, a running back who was impossible to stop. Big schools called. There were scholarship offers and recruiting visits. Iowa was persistent. Temple was close to home and it seemed right. Then came April 17, 2003, and a party in a nearby town. He and another young man were accused of first-degree sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in a car outside the house. He was 18 and about to finish high school.

Redman declines to elaborate on the details of that evening, but he eventually took a plea deal (resulting in three years of probation and no jail time) that convicted him of fourth-degree sexual contact (humiliating or degrading intimate touching). Leslie Redman says there were family pressures that led to the complaint and that someone familiar with the charges eventually apologized to Isaac for the fact they were brought.

But before the case was resolved, he faced 20 years in prison. Suddenly the colleges stopped calling. A low SAT score gave Temple reason to put his scholarship on hold, his once-gleaming future clouded. He spent months in a legal haze, with no college, no football, nothing but the fear he had lost it all.

When Isaac was arrested, Leslie cried for a week. “I knew he wanted to do so much with his life and it might not happen,” she says. “But I have faith in God and I keep praying and if you do that, God will take care of everything.”

A friend who rents houses called and said she had a house they could have free of charge. It was small, with no closets and barely enough room for Leslie, Isaac and his sister, but it was a house. It was a new start and what else could they be but grateful? With Temple stalling and nothing else looming for him, there came another surprise. It was something small, not much, but what choice did he have? Bowie State, a Division II school in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. was willing to take a chance.

Again, Isaac Redman could be nothing but grateful.

Read the rest of the story at Yahoo! Sports