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Clemson's McElrathbey, guardian of 12-year-old brother, will miss season

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson Tigers running back Ray Ray McElrathbey,
who earned headlines after taking custody of his 12-year-old
brother last year, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

McElrathbey was injured during practice Thursday, and spokesman
Tim Bourret confirmed Friday that he tore his anterior cruciate
ligament.

"At first I was upset," McElrathbey said. "But I am past that
now. Sometimes God tests you in different ways and it makes you
stronger in the end."

The injury comes a month after McElrathbey had arthroscopic knee
surgery, limiting his offseason workouts.

In a scrimmage last weekend, McElrathbey was second on the team
with six rushes for 25 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run.

"I really hate this for Ray Ray," said coach Tommy Bowden.
"He was doing very well at running back. He had a good spring and
had been doing well in the preseason."

The sophomore had decided to bring his brother, Fahmarr, to live
with him because of their mother's continuing cocaine addiction.
McElrathbey won the FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award presented by
the Football Writers Association of America.

McElrathbey started last fall as a defensive back. He played on
special teams and made six tackles in 13 games. He was shifted to
running back at the end of last season.

In March, he was suspended for at least four practices because
of academic concerns.

The McElrathbey brothers had been living off Ray Ray's Pell
grant, a monthly stipend for living off campus and whatever odd
jobs Ray Ray could pick up between his course work and football
obligations.

After Ray Ray gained custody of Fahmarr last year, Clemson
applied for -- and the NCAA approved -- a waiver of the governing
body's extra benefits rule. That allowed Clemson's coaches,
staffers and their family members to help the McElrathbeys with
rides to and from Fahmarr's middle school.

The NCAA also agreed that Clemson could set up a trust fund for
the McElrathbeys, where money donated by well-wishers could be
withdrawn to help Ray Ray raise Fahmarr.