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Kawann Short of the Panthers, an EC Central graduate, played a key role on the defensive line.

Jim hunsley

The large, bold and colorful mural on the exterior wall of Columbus Drive Gyros hits you like a storm surge as you enter the building.

This is a life-size painting of hometown hero Kawann Short, the Carolina Panthers defensive tackle, in his No.99 uniform and triumphantly holding the Super Bowl 50 trophy in his right hand, an event that was not to be.

Across Northwest Indiana, there were banners, posters, and cheering rallies across town in support of the EC Central graduate. Social media kept him in touch with the area on a daily basis, as if he was standing on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, figuring it out.

A special banner stretched across Columbus Drive in Alder Street, proclaiming, “East Chicago is proud of our hometown of Kawann Short. We’re East Chicago – Super Bowl 50. Go Panthers!

This 10ft by 10ft mural at Columbus Drive Gyros was painted on January 28 by the artist known as Fhat Cousins, who worked on his labor of love for eight hours.

“I’m 6 feet tall, and have yet to look at it,” restaurant owner John Troupis said. “It’s a win-win for the city because it has gone viral on social media. People always stop to take pictures.

“Kawann loved it and ended up sharing it (on social media). It started a fire under everyone to join in the celebration.

EC Central and college football players watched the 2016 Super Bowl in the high school mini-theater, with a pre-game video message delivered by Kawann Short.

“I saw so much love coming from my home. It’s sincere and it comes from the heart, ”he said by phone before the match. “East Chicago is not very big. There are only about 30,000 of them, but they respect people who go out and do things with their lives.

“And when you do, they gladly jump on board and support you 100%.”

44th overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Short went from five sacks combined in his first two seasons to 11 in 2105-16 – a team record for defensive tackles – before the NFL Championship game.

But what really jumps out at the game’s students are 11 sacks, 55 tackles and three forced fumbles by a 4-3 inside lineman who is also a fierce passer to the limit.

Short has gone from a player who flashed the screen once per game to a foolproof pro Bowler.

“I’m right here doing what I’m doing and trying to help this team win. It’s the only thing I can ask or work for, ”said the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Shorts.

Short has partnered with Athletes for Charity, HealthLinc, and the East Chicago Fire and Police Department to create academic incentives to benefit young people. He started a Youth Literacy Project to provide books and school incentives to children in need of encouragement in reading and academic achievement.

“They always come back. They never forgot their city and that’s the great thing, ”said Steve Segura, multimedia director for East Chicago.

Getting involved, sending a positive message, can work wonders in any environment.

“Some guys have been playing this game for 16-17 years and haven’t been to the Super Bowl. I played three years and I’m here, ”said Short, who had a video message for soccer players in town watching the Super Bowl 50 game in high school:

“I held your position and held the same seats many years ago. I had a vision and a dream to be where I am today, ”said Short. “East Chicago… you were 100% behind my back. Thank you for being there, for showing love and support. You have been amazing. Have a blessed day.

Kids, E’Twaun Moore and Short would often stop at Columbus Drive Gyros for a quick bite after school. It was a popular hangout with their basketball teammates.

E’Twaun was the star point guard and Kawann a power forward on the 2006-07 Cardinals team. Owner John Troupis recalled how the players, before the sections, assured him they were going to win the 4A championship.

He made a deal. Earn the state and that’s all you can eat.

The Cardinals advanced into the tournament – knocking down Lowell, Munster, South Bend Adams, Valparaiso and Marion – for a shot at Indianapolis North Central, featuring high school phenomenon Eric Gordon.

EC Central won, 87-83.

Shortly after, Moore and Short, holding the trophy, led the Cardinals through the gyros on Columbus Drive and said, “We’re really hungry! “


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