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An angel who arrived on his field of despair Paul Sokoloski Opinion

Life isn’t always fair.

But it has been especially cruel to the Philadelphia Eagles’ first-round draft choice.

Jeremy Maclin, the kid the Eagles are counting on to become a game-breaker, comes from a broken home.

His body also has broken down at some of the most critical moments of his life. Yet his spirit apparently has never been broken.

That’s mainly because of people such as Dr. Jeff Parres, who was much more than merely Maclin’s youth football coach when the young man was growing up in the St. Louis area. Parres, it seems, turned out to be the dad Maclin never had.

“Jeremy never knew his father,” Parres said.

And his mother reputedly had a drinking problem.

Macklin, who said he knows his father only by name, had no family to turn to as a youngster. Until he moved in with the Parres family when he was a high school sophomore.

Parres and his wife Cindy already had two sons. Yet they never hesitated to embrace a third.

“I look back on that and think, ‘How could you not?’ ” Parres said. “We were helping somebody’s life.

“In Little League football, we were taking Jeremy home after practices. There were times when no one was home and the doors would be locked.”

There were other times when slipped into his home by crawling through an open window.

Compared to that, slipping past defensive backs should pose little problem for the wide receiver.

“I think it made him mature,” Parres said.

Maclin’s game-breaking ability made Eagles coach Andy Reid swoon.

The Eagles traded up two spots to nab Maclin with the 19th overall pick in this weekend’s NFL draft.

“He is just a heck of a football player,” Reid said. “And on top of that, a quality kid.”

The quality of Maclin’s production has never been questioned.

He was an all-state high school receiver at Kirkwood High School in Missouri and an all-American in each of the two seasons he played for the University of Missouri.

All that electricity didn’t come without a few jolts that jarred his hip and twisted his ankle during his college career.

But his biggest scare came before he showed up at Missouri.

Maclin tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a workout summer workout in 2006.

It forced him to take a medical redshirt as a college freshman.

And it nearly crippled his career.

“Apparently, I was never supposed to play football again,” said Maclin, who will turn 21 on May 11. “Knowing that now, that I was this close to damaging a nerve in my foot, it was terrifying.”

Now NFL defenders are the ones who should be terrified.

“With what I’ve been through on and off the field,” Maclin said, “I feel like there’s not much that can really faze me.”

Maclin didn’t get to the Philadelphia Eagles by running away from his past. He arrived with a little push that propelled him toward a bright future.

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