E:60 Recap: Silent Night Lights, Le'Veon Bell, Justice for Jonathan

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ESPN's E:60 returned for its season premiere with a look at a special Pop Warner football team, a profile of Pittsburgh Steelers all-Pro Le'Veon Bell and an update on the case of Jonathan Ferrell.

Le'Veon Bell's long, bumpy road to stardom

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back -- who won the rushing title last year -- nearly had his career derailed before it even began. Bell, who call himself a "Mama's Boy," made a mistake that almost cost him everything just as his career as a Steeler was set to reach new heights.

He's an athlete with a supreme talent, but his off-field choices have always made his success a question mark.

Bell even missed the first two games of this season because he was suspended -- another example of the athlete getting in the way of his own talent.

Throughout his struggles however there has been one constant -- his mother. A single mom who worked as a teacher's assistant making $15,000 a year, Bell's mother struggled to feed and house her young family, but she persevered serving as a role model to her son.

It was her example that eventually helped him find his way to the NFL.

"She did everything in her power to make sure I had football gloves or football cleats," he said.

A high school star, Bell struggled academically and was passed over by all the major division one programs.

"It made me more humble," Bell said.

He eventually accepted an offer to attend Michigan State where he become a star before leaving for the NFL draft where he was picked by the Steelers.

His mother was beside him on draft night after attending every home game he played in three years of college.

Bell had a breakout rookie season and his career seemed set.

In his second year, expectations were high and the running back looked set to deliver before he almost ended everything. Bell was arrested along with former Steeler, and current New England Patriot LeGarrette Blount for possession of marijuana.

SBNation.com detailed the story:

Bell and Blount, plus a third passenger, were stopped in August 2014 and found to be in possession of 20 grams of marijuana. Bell also received a citation for driving under the influence, something that surprised Bell at the time when he told the police officer, "I didn't know you could get a DUI for being high. I smoked two hours ago. I'm not high anymore. I'm perfectly fine."

After his arrest, the hardest part for Bell was not telling his coach or his teammates. It was telling his mother.

"She was kind of in shock. Silent," he said.

His mother told him to apologize, ask for forgiveness and then move forward.

Bell says he is now entirely clean. He no longer smokes marijuana, drinks, or does any other sort of substance.

He watched the Steelers opening night loss to the Patriots at his mom's house -- a house he bought for her -- but he says he was a changed man ready to make the most of his career.

Justice for Jonathan

Former Florida A&M University football player Jonathan Ferrell was killed by a North Carolina police officer who said he feared the young black man was going to take away his gun.

Ferell was unarmed and not acting in a threatening manner. In addition his blood alcohol level showed that he was not intoxicated at the time of his death.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer Randall Kerrick shot 12 times, hitting Ferrell ten times, as the former athlete sought help following a car accident in 2013. The jury deadlocked after four days of deliberations, unable to reach a decision. Later, prosecutors declined to refile the charges and try Kerrick again.

That was a decision which outraged Ferrell's family and brought the case to E:60.

This current story follows up an earlier E:60 piece where reporter Lisa Salters looked at the death of Ferrell, the investigation that followed, his family's fight for justice, and how one case can shed light on a topic, race and the use of deadly force by police, that has sparked a national debate.

"Most of the people lining up behind officer Kerrick were white," said Mike Gordon, who covered the trial for the Charlotte Observer. He said it was very clear that race played a part in the jury's decision.

Prosecutors argued that it was clear Ferrell was unarmed. The officer maintained that he gave clear instructions and that Ferrell was going after his gun.

"He stuck with the story," Gordon said.

Despite the inability of the jury to reach a decision, Ferrell's family and friends have not given up the idea of finding justice for the fallen athlete.

Two years to the day of his death, his mother and brother visited the site where died. They vowed that the fight is not over and that they will not stop until justice has been served.

Silent Night Lights

Fremont, California's California School for the Deaf was used to people not expecting much from its football team.

The athletes however chose to not accept that and used the skepticism to fuel their march to the top. A team of underdogs, the school made its opponents take notice.

Some of the players were born deaf. Others lost their hearing later in life, but all were used to facing adversity. In some cases they were mocked by their peers and in sometimes they just had to battle the loneliness of being deaf in a hearing world.

It was adversity that could have broken the young men.

Instead, it drove them to excel on the football field. Representing their school -- the first all-deaf environment most of them had ever seen -- the team was driven to prove it belonged.

Opponents may have scoffed. They may have underestimated the small school full of deaf kids, bu they were proven very wrong.

The team uses its perceived weakness to its advantage. The ability of its players to sign allows for fast communication and a playbook stuffed with 150 plays, all of which are called via signs.

Mostly, though, the team has been honed by adversity into a stronger unit. It's like a story from a movie, only in this case it seems almost too preposterous to be real.

CCSFTD opened its 2014 season 5-0 outscoring its opponents 227-0. They then lost two games, requiring them to win three in a row in order to make the playoffs.

That's when the stuff of Disney movies began to happen and the team put up three more shutouts. Backs against the wall, these unlikely star athletes finished 8-2 to make the playoffs.

In a movie that could be the ending. In this case, the team had more work to do.

In the playoffs, against a rival that had previously owned it, the CCSFTD players overcame an early deficit to take a lead into halftime.

That's when the movie dream died and the journey came to an end -- a crushing 15-14 loss.

That loss however does not overshadow the accomplishment nor does it stop the team from being an example of what can happen if you commit and refuse to let your limitations stop you.