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Marcus Spears

From 'Cocaine City' to the Cowboys: La'el Collins followed faith, unsinkable mother to the NFL

First the name: La'el. It's pronounced Lah-EL. "It's Hebrew," explained La'el Collins. It was given to him by his grandmother. On July 26, 1993 his mother's 29th birthday baby boy Collins entered this world in a Baton Rouge, La., hospital with his umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. There had been no hint of trouble. Sonograms had indicated it was supposed to be a routine birth of a seven-pound, 21-inch boy. Suddenly the delivery room morphed into frenetic action. "It was crazy," the mother recalled almost 22 years later. When calm was restored and mother was able to finally cradle her baby in her arms, she looked at him and...

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