Steve Van Buren is a man of many nicknames including "The Flying Dutchman" and "Supersonic Steve." So, what's another to add to the list? How about "The Fighter?” From a young age, Van Buren fought through tough times to become the future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
The first battle came at 10 when Van Buren's Garifunan father and Honduran mother died, forcing him, his brother, and three sisters to move in with their grandparents in New Orleans. Just a few years later, Steve dreamed of playing, but at 125 pounds, he was too small to compete in the sport at Warren Easton High School and was told he would never make it at the varsity level.
Van Buren used those words as motivation. Before the start of his senior year, he worked at an iron foundry to both bulk up and bring additional income to his family. The hard work paid off. At tryouts that year, Van Buren was a strong and quick specimen and won a spot on the roster.
When he reached LSU on a football scholarship, Van Buren played primarily as a defensive end with flashes of potential at running back. In his senior year with the Tigers, Steve finally landed the tailback role and ran away with it.
Van Buren was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the fifth overall pick in the 1944 Draft. In his seven years, he led the league in rushing yards four times, including a streak of three years from 1947 to 1949. Not bad for "The Fighter."