Every Monday a Sun staffer gets to know a local sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Jim Bender lines up in the backfield with Winnipeg Blue Bombers tailback Fred Reid, who has had instant success since Charles Roberts was dealt to the B.C. Lions for running back Joe Smith.
THE SUN: What was it like for you growing up in Tampa Bay?
FRED REID: I was actually raised by my grandma and my granddad. I was with them ever since I was young and they basically kept me on the right path. They kept me out of trouble. It wasn't a good neighbourhood. I had some bad friends. But I was smarter than them and I went my own way at times. I loved football, so football and sports took up a lot of my time. By me doing that, I was able to stay straight and do what I had to do.
I've still got a lot of friends there. My family's there. I stay there in the off-season. I get a lot of support from the people back there.
TS: What other sports did you play?
FR: I ran track, played a little basketball but football mainly.
TS: Do you have any brothers or sisters and, if so, are they involved in sports?
FR: I've got three brothers and two sisters. I'm the oldest. They were in sports in high school but (some of them have) grown up and are working and in school. But my little brother's playing Little League Football now and my little sister's cheerleading. They're up and coming. He's hoping he can be the next me. I talk to him all the time, try to keep him on the right path and tell him what he's got to do and here's hoping he can become the next starter in the family.
TS: What's his name?
FR: He's got the same name as me -- he's actually Fred III. I'm the second -- Fred Jr., and he's the third.
TS: Uh, so then, what are your other brothers' names?
FR: My other brothers are Marcus and Anthony ... (Fred III) is my brother from my stepmom. My parents are separated but still alive. My brother's with my dad. I keep him on the right path because you know these young kids these days, you've got to talk to them because there's a lot of trouble out there on the streets. So, you've got to keep them positive and keep them going in the right direction. That's what I try to do every time I talk to him over the phone because, being up here, I barely get a chance to see him and I just try to show him support through the phone and tell him what he needs to do to get to the next level. I think he's doing pretty good. He listens to me. He's doing good at school, too.
TS: You had to be patient waiting to get your shot as a backup to Charles Roberts. What did you learn from him?
FR: He's a really tough guy to be his size and I really learned a lot about that from him -- how durable he is, how tough he can be. He can last the whole game, he can last the whole season. I learned some toughness from him. And he's a good guy.
TS: You're not much bigger than Roberts so did you have to overcome the perception that size matters, too?
FR: Oh yeah, even when I was in the NFL (Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp) in '05, I was hearing that a lot. But I figure size don't really matter. As long as you've got the heart and you've got the talent to play this game, you can be all right. That's just the attitude I carry every day of the week. With that attitude, I feel like I can accomplish anything. I believe the reason for me not being there (Tampa Bay) was because of my size because they had bigger backs.
TS: What is Joe Smith like off the field?
FR: Joe's a cool guy. He does his own thing at times. But you get to learn and understand Joe. He's a pretty good guy.
TS: What was your best job away from football?
FR: I had a part-time job in high school on weekends where I worked in a retirement home as a server. It was a pretty good job, making a little extra money for myself. But that was about the only job I had growing up because during the week, I was playing sports and that's the only thing I had time for.
TS: What is your favourite movie?
FR: The Dark Knight.
TS: Favourite TV show?
FR: House of Pain ... it's funny and you can learn things from it.