Boston College running back William Green knows what it's like to live through hard times.
The middle of five children, every day was a struggle growing up in an impoverished household in the projects of Atlantic City. And that was before his mom and dad both passed away.
"Both my parents died of AIDS," said Green. "It was a very tough experience. Watching that was really hard. I'm glad that I can talk about it now because it makes me feel better. But I was just 13-14 years old then. It was really hard."
Shortly after his mother Mabel's death eight years ago, Green moved to another part of Atlantic City with his grandmother. The rest of his siblings were sent to stay with other relatives.
"We had to go our own way because there wasn't a family that could take us all at once," Green said. "But it's like my mom told me, 'Nobody ever said life was fair.' That's the way she always taught us."
Not that the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has been completely able to escape his past and make correct decisions all the time.
Green was suspended for BC's 31-17 triumph over Arizona in last December's Aloha Bowl for a violation of team rules, the same reason head coach Tom O'Brien gave for holding him out of the Eagles' 18-7 loss to Miami late in the season.
"I've made some mistakes, I know that," Green said. "But I am continuing to work hard.
"I've been playing with a chip on my shoulder all my life. It's just the way life has been. I've had to work really hard to get where I wanted to be. The odds were really stacked against me. There were a lot of people who didn't believe (in me). But I've just tried to prove them wrong."
So far, so good.
The junior led the nation in rushing for most of the season and enters Friday's Music City Bowl date against 16th-ranked Georgia ranked second with 155.9 yards per contest and has rushed for at least 100 yards in all but one game, recording five of the top seven single-game performances in the league this year.
The Co-Big East Offensive Player of the Year, an award he shares with Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey, Green also led the Big East with 181.9 all-purpose yards, while averaging 10.2 points.
"He's the complete back," O'Brien said. "He's a big back, a strong back. He's been quicker and faster than he's ever been in the past."
Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has been impressed with what he's seen.
"He's so fast for his size, that's what grabs you right away," said VanGorder. "He's everything you want in a tailback. With that kind of size and to run as fast as he can run. ... he's the whole package. He's awfully good."
Still don't believe it? If not, Green's two-year-old daughter Amani will set the record straight.
"My daughter means everything to me, she's my life," said Green, his voice lighting up. "She watches games on television now and she'll go 'Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!' She understands what's going on pretty well."
Still, raising a child while still a student in college hasn't been easy for Green and Amani's mother Asia, who have dated since their high school year.
"If it wasn't for Asia I couldn't be here because I'd have to be back home taking care of my daughter," Green said. "She's raising my daughter and going to school at the same time. She's working really hard."
To help support his young family, Green said he works when he can during the summer, although he admits the couple "Is doing without a lot right now."
But maybe not for long.
Green is regarded by most NFL scouts as a first-round selection, and said he is considering forgoing his senior year to enter April's NFL Draft.
"That's something Coach O'Brien and I will probably talk about. Nothing's for sure right now," Green said. "Right now, the Music City Bowl is the most important thing. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. I've struggled 22 years of my life, so another year isn't going to make a difference."
Game-by-game statistics for Boston College's William Green in 2001:
Miami/Did not play