Gophers defensive end Gaelin Elmore, who was surrounded by addiction and abuse as he bounced between foster homes growing up in Somerset Wis., has been named one of five national winners of the Wilma Rudolph Student Athlete Achievement Award.
Elmore, a junior who was an Academic All-Big Ten selection last year, will receive the Rudolph Award on June 11 at the 2016 National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics Convention Awards Luncheon in Dallas.
The Rudolph Award honors athletes who've overcome personal, academic or emotional odds to achieve academic success while competing in intercollegiate sports. Former Gophers safety Cedric Thompson won the award in 2014.
This year's other winners are Carl Appleton (Lewis and Clark College), Imani Boyette (Texas), Nicole Dennion (Elon University) and Bailey Wind (Tennessee).
Here's how the award committee described the hardship Elmore overcame:
By the age of five, Elmore had faced more hardships than the average person may face in a lifetime. After being homeless multiple times, separated from his siblings, observing drug-addicted parents, and forced to run away from foster homes due to abuse, Elmore found an outlet by playing sports. For his entire childhood, Elmore bounced from one foster home to the next before being reunited with his father for only a short time before drug-addition once again interfered. Thankfully, Elmore’s high school football coach stepped in and gave him a place to live and a chance to do something meaningful with his life. With his coach’s help, Elmore was able to receive a full scholarship to play football at the University of Minnesota, a place with a support system that he now considers to be family.