Jamar Nesbit (1995-98) never sought the spotlight, but now he is getting his moment in the sun. The former South Carolina and NFL offensive tackle was not only a three-time All-SEC performer, but he was also recognized throughout his career for his work in the community. On September 21, he will be inducted into the University of South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame sponsored by the Association of Lettermen.
"It was a complete surprise," Nesbit said. "I had a no idea that I had been nominated. I'm really excited about it."
Nesbit currently lives in Charlotte, N.C., and after an 11-year NFL career with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, he is happily retired and enjoys being a husband and father of two boys.
"I just want to pour as much of my time into my wife (Tara) and two kids and try to help them achieve in the work place for my wife, and in school and athletics with my two boys," Nesbit said.
Nesbit earned a Super Bowl ring with the Saints in 2010, but he isn't one to flaunt his bling.
"I don't really wear it that often," Nesbit laughed. "There might be some special occasions where I dust it off. I just don't want to lose it. If my teammates ask me to bring it out, I will. I normally don't bring it out just to bring it out."
I never tried to put myself above anybody, and I tried to make sure that if there was something I could give, then that's what I was going to try to do.Jamar Nesbit
While Nesbit certainly had a tremendous playing career, his off the field work should be praised as well. As a Gamecock, he was recognized by the SEC for his community service work, and he was named to the 11-member Chick-fil-A "Good Works Team" in 1996.
"My parents always taught me that no matter where you are, there are going to be people that have more than you, and there are going to be people that have less than you," Nesbit said. "They told me that you are no better or no worse than anybody standing next to you. My thought was to always try to help the next man. I never tried to put myself above anybody, and I tried to make sure that if there was something I could give, then that's what I was going to try to do."
He was also part of a community in need when New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"It was the first natural disaster I had ever been through," Nesbit said. "It was possibly the first time that I never really knew what my future schedule was going to look like and where I was going to live. As a professional athlete, you really get used to a schedule, and live by that. More than anything else, just being part of a community and seeing everything they had to go through, and the aftermath in helping them rebuild is what stuck with me."
Adjusting to new places and tough situations was nothing new for Nesbit. With his father working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Nesbit was born in (then) West Germany and later moved to Saudi Arabia before coming to the United States as a teenager. By the time he was finishing high school in Summerville, S.C., Nesbit could have gone anywhere to play football, but chose South Carolina due to the International Business program.
"It would have been easy to go to one of the other programs that had been more victorious at the time, but I wanted to help build something," Nesbit said. "I ended up getting two degrees, a marketing degree as well as a business administration degree. I finished my Masters in Business Administration this past summer. I still hear my dad's voice in my head. Education is one of those things that once you earn it, no one can ever take it away from you. I'm always striving to learn. I'm always wanting to test myself. It's one of the things I always told my parents I would do.
"Being overseas and moving to the United States was probably one of the larger transitions I've had to make. You're in the constant state of transition when you live overseas because people are constantly coming and going, so I learned how to make friends quickly."
While he enjoyed playing in front of capacity crowds at Williams-Brice Stadium and running out to "2001," Nesbit's best memories at South Carolina are more personal.
"I met my wife at South Carolina," Nesbit said. "I've had a lot of lifelong friends that went to the University of South Carolina. More than anything else, South Carolina gave me a foundation and a launching pad as I went out into the world. I always knew I had a place to land if something went wrong."