EDMONTON -- He was barely a lad of one when his mother decided to seek a better life for her family.
So, she left their Berbice, Guyana, hometown bound for the U.S., and Andre Sommersell didn't see her again for 10 years. And his father was not in the picture.
"I was about one and my brother was two," the Eskimos defensive end said before last night's CFL game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. "I grew up with my great aunt. She raised me until I was 11."
Sommersell only saw his mom in photos.
"I just talked to her over the phone, saw pictures, letters, you know, the whole thing but hadn't really seen her for 10 years," he said. "We kept in contact with each other but I never saw her for 10 years.
"She wanted to get a better life. She had her papers but she didn't have the papers to bring kids into the U.S. with her. So, she came back and got our papers ready."
And it took that long to get everything straight.
Yet, Sommersell has no bad memories of life in South America.
"I didn't think life was that rough there," said the 6-foot-2, 227-pounder. "I was a little kid going to school with all my friends and just waiting for my day to come to the States. I got to the States, got into football and now I'm in Canada. You can't beat that."
Sommersell, 26, was introduced to football while growing up in California and took an immediate liking to the game.
"I've been to a lot of countries," he said. "I've been to Germany, I've been to Prague and Amsterdam to play football and you can't really beat that experience. Being in Canada now, you can't really top that off."
Sommersell learned the game so quickly that he was actually drafted. However, because he was the last choice overall in the 2004 NFL draft (Oakland), he became known as "Mr. Irrelevant."
"'Mr. Irrelevant' is one of the best things that can happen to ya if you're not drafted in the first three rounds," he said. "You might as well wait for that Irrelevant role to come up. It lasts a whole week and they treat you so special that you feel like you aren't the last person picked. And I was drafted, not a lot of people can say that. But the last pick, people look at you as one of those irrelevant people and that week just kind of promotes you and portrays you as being special and I appreciated that."
Newport Beach hosts a party for "Mr. Irrelevant" each spring and Sommersell ate it up.
"It made me feel like a king," he said.
The party even included a "Miss Irrelevant" contest.
"It was a little X-rated, a little G, but there were certain things there that mom felt she had to leave the club for," Sommersell said, laughing. "I have a lot of perverted friends who were asking a lot of questions up there and when certain questions started coming out, she knew it was time for her to leave. But it was a good time."
The Eskies have seen tremendous potential in Sommersell, who has been hampered by some minor injuries in the early going. Yet, he still has five defensive tackles, one tackle for a loss and a sack.
"I don't think I've been playing that good," Sommersell said. "I can play a little better."
And those left behind in Guyana are following the career of one of their own.