Co Written by Celeste Lawson | Photos by Daryan Harris
Demone Demetrius Harris is busy living his best life. Born and raised on Buffalo’s east side, Harris, a 23-year-old outstanding athlete signed an NFL contract to play with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at approximately 10 am. The date and time for this story is important because it caps off and seals the deal on a seven-day run of enough ups and downs that could rival any theme park roller coaster. It also marks a victory for young Harris as he waged an 8-year battle to make the roster of a professional football team and finalize a life commitment with the woman of his dreams.
Harris waged an 8-year battle to make the roster of a professional football team and finalize a life commitment with the woman of his dreams.
Demone Harris started his journey as an athlete playing basketball in middle school as a student at the Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School. He continued as a basketball player in high school at Bishop Timon – St. Jude when his coach recommended, he considers playing football. Harris followed that recommendation and was accepted on Bishop Timon/St. Jude’s varsity team during his senior year. He enrolled in an EOP academic program but learned that as an EOP student, he was not allowed to participate in the UB Bulls summer camp. In the Fall he walked-on to the tryouts as a UB freshman and impressed the coaches so much he was immediately assigned to the Bulls.
His early playing time at UB was cut short by an injury. Finally, back in tiptop shape his senior year, Harris was given a chance to play again. It was then scouts from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers noticed him and signed him to their practice squad. It was a celebration time for Demone and his family.
Harris reflects on the crime and neglect that took place almost daily, almost directly outside of his front door.
Demone grew up in the East Ferry Projects, raised by his mother in a single-parent home. Harris reflects on the crime and neglect that took place almost daily, almost directly outside of his front door. That environment is not a place that nurtures kids to dream big, let alone achieve big. Very few manage to find a path that leads to a rewarding life – let alone end up in the NFL. “I believe my mother’s love and my faith brought me through the tough times,” Demone commented. “I learned to handle a lot. I know a professional athlete has to be ready at all times.”
Ramona Holcomb, Harris’ mother, is a strong woman committed to caring for her family in the best ways she can. “I put my head down and shoulder to the ground working to take care of my boys. I worked, I trained them, I focused. My sons were my driving force.”
Charlie Comerford, a mentor of Demone’s and the head coach at Bishop Timon, was beaming at the news, “Demone is one of the highest character men I’ve ever met in my life. He never missed a workout, never missed a practice, never missed a day of school, and never gave anything less than 100% in everything he did,” Comerford remarked,” I couldn’t be any prouder of the athlete he’s become, but more importantly of the man he’s become.” In 2017, Demone Harris was nominated to the coveted Burlsworth Trophy. Named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, another young player who “walked-on” to a university team football tryout, ultimately became an All-American and was a 3rd round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts. He never got a chance to play. Tragically, he was killed in a car crash shortly after his draft. The Rotary of Arkansas established this honor and trophy to memorialize the character, commitment, and strength of exemplary football players who are considered a “walk-on” to a college team and go on to have professional careers.
The roller-coaster ride continued as Harris played with Tampa during portions of the 2018 and 2019 season, including time spent with the Buccaneers in London, England; he moved around like a globetrotter more than a linebacker
The ride downhill started October 5th during Tampa Bay’s bye week. Harris got the call he was released from Tampa, no reason, just released. That same week, Harris decided to make a trip to Baltimore and try out for the Ravens. Even with all his traveling, romance stayed on his mind. Demone was carrying a custom engagement ring he purchased while in Tampa. He had special plans for a marriage proposal to his longtime girlfriend, Arianna Marinelli upon his return to Buffalo. Harris says, “It was love at first sight with Ari.“
That night a big downward dip began. Harris tells the story, “When I got to the Baltimore airport. I realized I did not have the ring. I went through my suitcase, no ring.” Harris took a cab back to the hotel to search for the ring. “That ring is the most expensive thing I have ever purchased in my life,” Harris recalled, “and it was gone!” “I searched for everything and everywhere. I couldn’t find it!” But Demone did not panic, he said a small prayer, “God, I’m putting this in your hands.” He didn’t want to delay his marriage proposal, so he contacted his jeweler in Tampa, and asked what he could do. The jeweler said he would prepare a temporary engagement ring and he could pick it up the next day.
When he flew back to Tampa to turn in his Buccaneers playbook and pick up the temporary engagement ring, at 9:45 that morning, Harris was notified the Ravens were going to sign him. About an hour later, the hotel in Baltimore called him to say they found the engagement ring. Now, the ring was in Baltimore, he was in Tampa, and his fiancé in Buffalo. Demone called the Ravens and asked if they would ship the ring overnight to him in Buffalo so he could keep his proposal plans for the next day. They graciously agreed. Everything finally came together for this young man. His future was looking bright. He had a new job and a new fiancé and great opportunities ahead of him.
One time again, his family and friends had cause for jubilation. David, Demone’s younger brother is filled with pride, “Whatever Demone puts his mind to, he is successful at it. I believe he is successful because he is dedicated to his work and loves the process of life, and he is very loyal.
“No matter how bleak your future may seem at the moment, put everything in God’s hands, and he will see you through,” Demone states, “I want to share this story because I feel like it might strengthen someone’s resolve and faith. Hardship is inevitable, simply it is how you respond to it that defines you.” Amen, Demone.