Gilmore wears family proudly


The oldest of six Stephon Gilmore was pressed into babysitting duty for his five younger siblings at an early age. With two parents working, Gilmore had to mind four younger sisters and a brother. No easy task for a teenager, but the self-disciplined football player ran a tight ship with his siblings.

"I can remember when he was babysitting all the kids and we'd come back all the kids would be seated and still," said his mother Linda Gilmore. "We never told him how to babysit, but he would keep them all in line."

Of course the younger siblings would try and test Stephon from time to time, but a little pinch often straightened them out.

"He would just pinch them to behave and it worked," said his mother laughing.

Babysitting duty kept Gilmore from what he really wanted to do at the time, which was go to the gym to work out. The budding football talent just improvised.

"I would go work out in my backyard," he said. "I didn't mind watching my sisters and brother. I have a great family. They've always been there for me. A real close family."

As Gilmore's teenage years came to a close he wanted to show how much his family meant to him. Though not the type of person or player that wears his emotions on his sleeve, Gilmore decided to put his family on his arm.

He wanted to get his first tattoo. Knowing his mother would be against the idea he approached his father.

"I told him it would be okay to get one as long as he knew it'd be a big problem to take off," said Steve Gilmore. "But he understood, so he was okay."

Gilmore never told his father what the design of the tattoo might be, but when he unveiled it to his parents it was hard for them to be disappointed.

"It's a family tree with our names in them on the limbs of the tree," said Mrs. Gilmore. "It blew me away when I saw it. That was his first tattoo and I was shocked really."

Gilmore had his entire immediate family on the tree. His parents Steve and Linda along with his four sisters Sabrina, Sierra, Scarlet and Savannah as well as his little brother Steven.

The tattoo covers his left arm from shoulder to elbow. For Gilmore, the decision was easy.

"My mom and dad raised me the right way and that's why I'm the person I am now," he said. "I'm a respectful person and treat people right. My sisters and brothers always had my back. They helped me make decisions through it all."

Gilmore has his parents accompany him to the NFL draft in New York last Thursday, and brought them up to Buffalo with him after becoming the Bills top pick along with his girlfriend Gabrielle.

"It is very important to have them here with me to see where I am going to be working out at, where I am going to be living at and where I am going to do everything. It was a big day for me and I wanted them to come and experience it with me."

Though his younger siblings did not make the trip they were firing off text messages of congratulations after he was drafted.

"I have a big family," he said. "I have four sisters and one brother. I'm just trying to be a great role model for them and God blessed me."

"They have so much respect for him," said his mother.

Gilmore's NFL path in Buffalo will take him as far away from his family as he has ever been. At the University of South Carolina he was just an hour and 20 minutes from home, and his next oldest sibling Sabrina is enrolled at the Columbia campus as well.

Now he'll be close to 800 miles from home, but Gilmore is committed to making the adjustment.

"I think I will take it pretty well," he said. "I always work hard and I am going to compete in everything I do. That is the only thing I can do and give them my hardest. I think I will be well with that."

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