(NEW ORLEANS, La.) Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has come a long way leading up to Monday night's big BCS match up. And his parents couldn't be more proud. Local 15 News sat down with them to chat about AJ.
Competing in the championship game is nothing new for AJ. He won his first title at the age of four.
"He played quarterback at Trimmier (Park), and they actually won the Youth Bowl. So he got his first taste of championship at a young age and loved it. He just loved playing," AJ's mom Dee Dee Bonner said.
When he was five, AJ's days of playing nearly came to an end. He was involved in a tragic wave runner accident.
The news wasn't good.
"We went to USA Women's and Children's and he was in the back, in the trauma unit with the left side of his face crushed in," remembered Bonner. "They told us not to expect him to live. We went into surgery for about eight to 10 hours, and five or six metal plates later, screws in his face and 58 staples along his top of his head, he came out with a rebuilt face. Back to my pretty baby."
Knowing what AJ has been through, you can understand why his mom gets defensive when fans criticize his play.
"I've gotten better with getting my feelings hurt, I guess you can say by the people that talk about him, 'cause they'll say things in front of you. But overall, it's just like it was when he was four. You know, momma bear's claws come out if you talk about my kid," Bonner added.
While some fans are critical, there are tons of Tide faithfuls who are in his corner and just want an autograph, even if the family is out to dinner.
"Once they figure out that for sure it's him, then they'll start out by sending their kids over first. And the kids, you can't tell a kid 'no'. So the kid comes up and asks for an autograph or a picture, and slowly but surely the adults will start coming," said AJ's dad Tony McCarron.
As you can imagine, AJ's parents have received countless ticket requests for the BCS title game.
"People call and ask, and I'm guessing they think we have a ticket printer at the house or Alabama gives us an unlimited amount," said McCarron. "AJ gets six, Dee Dee gets three and I get three. Between her family and my family, that's the six.
During the season, AJ has steadily improved as a player. But the person he has become is what makes his parents proud.
"The awards and accolades have been wonderful, but just the way he's handled it all has been probably the thing that's impressed me most. He's kept his humility about him," said Bonner.
"For a kid that's in the limelight, he shuns the limelight. He doesn't want it at all. And he just wants to be a normal kid," said McCarron.