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Jeremy Reaves learned grit, selflessness as the son of two veterans

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As a kid, Jeremy Reaves remembers being annoyed with all the routines and to-dos in his "very strict" household. But as he got older, his mindset evolved.  

"I've realized, 'Man that stuff shaped my life," Reaves said. "When I come into the building and what time I leave, my whole routine throughout the week …It's kept me afloat when times haven't went my way. It's kept me stay the course." 

The regimented nature of the Reaves house was largely a product of his parents' military backgrounds. His dad was in the Army and then served as a police officer for 25 years, and his mom was in the Air Force. The lessons instilled in Reaves during his upbringing have deeply impacted him on and off the field.  

In watching his parents navigate life, Reeves learned resilience and how to keep moving forward in the face of challenges.   

"They had their ups and downs, but they never wavered when things got hard…they looked at it dead in the face and they said, 'let's go,' and they attacked it," Reaves said. "And so I've…applied that to my day to day and to my journey."

A "never give up" approach has been a major theme of Reaves' story. He went undrafted out of college and made his first 53-man roster in 2022 after being cut the previous four seasons. On Thanksgiving of last year, Reaves lost his mom, Rose, who he described "as his biggest fan." She always encouraged him to be good-natured and kind.

"One of the things that she wrote me in a letter before I left for college was, 'Treat all people with love and integrity, because you never know the effect you might have on somebody,'" Reaves said. "So, I've always kind of tried to model my life after that."

Reaves tries to carry on her legacy and make her proud every day by working his hardest and being a light wherever he steps.

"My mother was always trying to be positive with us," Reaves said. "And so, carrying that side of her with me, I've tried to apply that day-to-day life and just honor her and make her proud of that, because I know she's watching."

As a mother and as an Air Force veteran, the words come from a similar place. Her values -- and the values she passed on to Reaves -- had a lot to do with helping others and contributing to something bigger than yourself. The servant leadership and selflessness embodied by the members of our armed forced are not taken for granted for Reaves. This Sunday against the Vikings, he is honored to recognize and play for his mom, dad and the millions of others who make up the military community.

"At the end of the day, I have the utmost love and respect for them, because I am coming from a home that was military," Reaves said. "It's the most genuine love and respect and gratitude…because they make what we do possible."

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