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Saints lineman and mother have special relationship

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ New Orleans Saints defensive end Charles Grant has a unique way of preparing for games.

He imagines the players that line up across from him are the men who beat his mother over the years, the employers who took advantage of her or the people who ran out on her.

``Then I just go out and do to them what I wanted to do to all those other people,'' said Grant, who is tied for fourth in the NFL with 7{ sacks.

Everybody knows about Charles' Mama,'' teammate Will Smith said.I think it's great how they're really special to each other.''

Theresa Warren is a combination of mother, sister and friend to Grant. Their bond was forged over hard years when she worked for low wages as a single mother to take care of Charles, his younger brother and his grandmother.

She was always looking out for us, doing for us,'' Grant said.She's the person I'm closest to now. She's the person I always count on.''

Grant was born in Colquitt, Ga., when his mother was 15.

I had to drop out of school,'' Warren said.I didn't mind. I just wanted to make sure things were better for Charles.''

Warren said she worked by sewing in local factories, earning minimum wage and frequently putting in 12-hour days.

We went through some bad times,'' Warren said.We never went hungry, but there wasn't much money for other things. Charles never got all the fancy shoes or clothes like much of his friends had.''

Grant, 26, still bears emotional and physical scars from his childhood.

Warren was making dinner while the brothers played in front of the fireplace. Grant's younger brother, Renaldo, pushed him too close to the flames and Grant's pants caught fire. Grant was hospitalized with third-degree burns.

They tried to take him and his brother away from me,'' Warren said.They said I was leaving them home alone. But I never left them home alone.''

When Charles was 6 and Renaldo was 3, they were sitting on their mother's bed watching TV. A friend of Warren's was putting a handgun under the mattress when it discharged accidentally, hitting Renaldo in the head, killing him.

I had nightmares about it for a long time,'' said Grant, who has Renaldo's nickname NaNa tattooed on his arm.I still miss him. I have his picture on the mantle at home. Someday I'm going to have a Pro Bowl jersey and I'll put it by his picture. I promised him that.''

After Renaldo's death, Warren turned to drugs.

``I smoked marijuana, I did crack, I tried everything,'' Warren said.

After six months, Warren said she gave up everything except the marijuana, which she continued to use for years.

By the time he was 17, Warren said Grant realized what was going on.

I don't do that anymore,'' Warren said.Charles got after me about it. He said, `Why are you doing that when I'm doing everything I can for you?' He was really disappointed in me.''

Grant played three years at Georgia before the Saints made him a first-round draft pick in 2002. He started all 16 games last season and led the team with 10 sacks and three forced fumbles and had 53 tackles.

Warren is still looking out for him, attending every home game and talking to him about his play. She even went through his offseason workouts with him.

If I ever have any problem with Charles, I just call his mother,'' coach Jim Haslett said with a laugh.She'll have him back in line in no time.''

Things have gotten much better for Grant and his mother. She married Ralph Warren 15 years ago, the man Grant considers his father. Grant and Ralph Warren, who worked two jobs for years a janitor in a nursing home and a furniture deliverer are starting a trucking company.

When Grant signed his NFL contract, he wanted to build a big new house for his mother. She wanted no part of it.

I wouldn't have known what to do in a mansion,'' Warren said.I told him I just wanted a nice trailer.''

Grant got her one _ a five-bedroom trailer that sits on 25 acres of land, still in Colquitt.

It's a really nice one with a round tub in the master bath, a big living room and dining room,'' Grant said.I made sure it had everything she wanted.''

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