SP mural honors football dreamer

first_img“It just means that our son’s memory lives in perpetuity,” Joe Danelo said. “Hopefully, this will inspire other students academically as well as athletically.” After graduating from San Pedro High with a 4.1 grade-point average and all-Los Angeles city honors at linebacker, Danelo made the Trojan squad as a “walk on” placekicker. During the 2005 season, he set NCAA, Pac-10 and USC records for hitting 83 of 86 extra points. He kicked two field goals to help USC beat Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl. But Will Collins, a senior long- snapper and one of Danelo’s closest friends, most fondly recalls USC’s 50-14 victory in Arkansas in 2006, when the Razorbacks called three consecutive timeouts in the first half to try to psyche out the kicker. “He said, `This is the longest we’ve been on a field,”‘ Collins recalled. “He said, `Let’s make the kick and get out of here.”‘ A USC group led by booster Shawn Talbott enlisted Sullivan to memorialize Danelo on the multicolored porcelain mural that depicts him kicking a field goal, with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as a backdrop. As a testament to his grit, Talbott and wife Lauri, a fifth-grade teacher at Carr Elementary School in Torrance, also launched a scholarship drive. Beginning in the fall of 2008, USC will set aside one of its 85 football scholarships for a walk-on player in Danelo’s honor. And each year the group will pay for the books at college for a 12th-grader from San Pedro High. The student need not attend USC. “We’re going to give it to kids who really need the money,” Talbott said. “Because $400 or $500 (a semester) out of pocket is a big deal.” To fund the scholarships, the group is selling lithographs of the mural. Collins and other players said Danelo has served as an inspiration for this year’s team. After scoring their first touchdown of the season against Idaho in September, Danelo’s teammates paid tribute to him by taking a penalty – in the missing-man formation with no kicker – on the point after touchdown. In October, Danelo was given a plaque on San Pedro’s Sportswalk. To purchase a lithograph of the mural for $249, contact the USC Athletic Department at 213-740-4155. Funds will go toward scholarships. [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ“If Mario was sitting here, he would wonder what this fuss was all about,” said Mike Walsh, who coached Danelo at San Pedro High. “He didn’t view himself as special.” Trojan Coach Pete Carroll remembered Danelo’s toughness as he spoke to a crowd of about 100 that turned out for the dedication. “Mario was not just a kicker,” Carroll said. “He was more than that. He was always a linebacker and he wanted to play fullback.” Designed by Irvine-based sports muralist Mike Sullivan, the mural is meant to inspire future students to reach for the stars, speakers said. Danelo’s parents, Joe and Emily, joined Carroll on a scissor lift to pull down a cardinal drape emblazoned with his No. 19, covering the mural. &#187 PHOTOS: Mario Danelo tribute Mario Danelo’s family and coaches saluted the late Trojan placekicker’s work ethic, down-to-earth character and playful demeanor Monday as they unveiled a mural in his honor in San Pedro. Called “Livin’ the Dream” – an expression Danelo used often to describe his life – the 12-by-8-foot glass-tile mural hangs on the east-facing wall of the English building at San Pedro High School, where he once attended classes. The 21-year-old Danelo died Jan. 6 after he fell from a San Pedro cliff. last_img

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