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Jets Revis is a role model.


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Jets' Revis a role model for his family, neighborhood, hometown



(Original publication: May 11, 2007)

SUFFERN - Darrelle Revis sat at a back table at the Airmont Diner, unaffected by the VIP treatment shown by the owner's son, Archie Kyriacou, and an autograph request from a waitress.

"Stay humble and play football, that's basically it," said the rookie cornerback, selected 14th overall last month by the Jets after his junior year at Pittsburgh.

He's confident that this philosophy, born on the streets of Aliquippa, Pa., plus a maturity that belies his 21 years, will spur him to NFL success. And tomorrow, Revis, whom the Jets traded up 11 spots to get, will take the field for the first time as the team opens its three-day rookie mini-camp at Hofstra.

"I never really had a problem with Darrelle," said his mother, Diana Gilbert, the sister of former NFL defensive lineman Sean Gilbert. "You have the regular things that go on in this neighborhood, a lot of shootings. But you find ways to keep your child out of that. People don't believe that, but there are ways. You've got to pull him out of the clouds and say, 'This is not your life, there's something better for you.' "

Revis is the oldest of Diana Gilbert's three children - plus a half-brother and sister - and the oldest of her mother Aileen Gilbert's 14 grandchildren. He's also the father of a 1-year-old daughter, Deyani. Diana Gilbert calls her son a role model - not just for their family, but for many in the neighborhood.

She was set to attend the University of Texas on a track scholarship, but went to work instead after getting pregnant with Revis.

So when he left Pittsburgh about 60 credits short of a degree in administrative justice, he had to promise Gilbert he would return to finish his education.

"All his nieces, nephews, cousins, they look up to him," Gilbert said. "The friends of his younger brother (17-year-old Derry Revis), I let them watch the games and have popcorn here. When Darrelle comes home, he talks to them about grades and doing your work in school. He tells them sports comes after that and that they have to maintain that grade level and not to get sucked up by what goes on in the street."

Aliquippa, part of the Pittsburgh metro area, is known for the numerous pro athletes it has produced - Pistol Pete Maravich, ex-Jet Ty Law, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett and Gilbert, among them - and the intensity with which its high school athletics are followed.

But too often, gang members tried to recruit Revis. Too often, he was solicited with the opportunity to buy drugs or to profit by selling them. But Revis never stopped walking when approached.

"Why make bad money?" Revis said.

Instead, his mother had him playing on a travel AAU basketball team by the time he was 10. She made sure he spent summers in Maryland with his father, Darryl Revis, a former cornerback at Indiana State. Or she took her children on vacations to visit family in New York.

Anything to show her son there was another life out there.

"Basically chaos," Revis said of growing up in Aliquippa. "It's a bad town now since the mills closed down. You can get caught up with temptation, drugs. You've just got to be on the positive path and know what you want. I think what holds this town up is high school sports. Every year, everybody wants a state championship out of us so there's a little bit of pressure there. I brought one back home senior year."

Revis said playing in the NFL was "his dream," and there's a picture of him as a 2-year-old in a Steelers jersey. Still, if there's anything his uncle has told him about the NFL, it's that it's a business.

So while Revis doesn't anticipate any problems in contract negotiations with the Jets, he's not taking anything for granted.

"I want to get into training camp early so I can be there, just be with the team," Revis said. "I don't think it should be a problem where I need to be waiting. But time will tell."

Reach Andrew Gross at apgross@lohud.com and read his Jets blog at

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