Editor's note: This marks the 30th anniversary of USA TODAY recognizing the nation's top high school athletes. As we prepare to unveil the 2012 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Football Team at the end of the season, we'll dig into the archives and check in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades. This week's player is Dynast Amir, known as Albert Hollis II when he was named an American Family Insurance ALL-USA running back in 1999 while at Christian Brothers in Sacraemento, Calif.
Albert Hollis II’s college football career was over almost as quickly as it began.
Hollis, now known as Dynast Amir, was an American Family Insurance ALL-USA first team running back from Christian Brothers (Sacramento, Calif.) in 1999. He ran the 100 meters in 10.48 seconds in high school and used that speed in an explosive style that helped him run for 2,053 yards and 31 touchdowns his senior year.
He signed with Georgia and after sitting out as a redshirt freshman in the fall of 2000, he was looking forward for a chance to be the team’s top tailback. In only the second spring practice in 2001, he dislocated his right knee while making a cut in a goal-line drill, severing his hamstring muscle, multiple ligaments and stretching his peroneal nerve.
“I'm very competitive,” Amir said. “I love to work out and because of that, I was able to come back. I didn’t take no for an answer.”
It took three years of therapy, but in 2004, he was ready to step on the field again. After running for 6 yards in his first carry in the team’s spring G-Day game, he received a standing ovation. But as hard as he had worked to get back, Amir said he came to a realization.
“The lesson for me was the work I put in and the result to be able to play football again,” Amir said. “I didn't get emotional, but deep inside, it felt good. At the same time, that was tempered by knowing the potential that I had was lost. I was still explosive, but not as explosive as I had been because of my foot.”
Though his knee was fully healed, he had developed a condition known as drop foot from nerve damage and that kept him from being able to powerfully drive off his right foot. So, even with a sixth year of eligibility because of medical hardship, he gave up football.
Up until that point, Amir said all he thought about was track, football and girls. Ironically, a comment a girlfriend made about how he looked good in his underwear emboldened him into trying modeling after he graduated from Georgia.
It was around that time that he got into Sufism, a type of Muslim mysticism, and changed his name.
Though he did a number of modeling shoots and even some independent films, he found he wasn’t able to earn a consistent living just modeling, so he got into insurance sales with AFLAC in Atlanta. Three years ago, Amir landed a job in uniform sales with Cintas in Los Angeles. Only 30, he keeps busy. He recently began writing about men’s fashion, music and films for ChinaShop, an online magazine. Three Sundays a month, he volunteers with an organization that feeds the homeless in Los Angeles’ skid row.
“It's discouraging to see the poverty in such a wealthy area like Los Angeles,” he said. “It’s important to help some of these people while they’re young. Many of the older ones are so caught up in their habits, there’s no coming back. I’m trying to do my part.”
He’s also planning a trip to Africa, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and learn more about tribalism.
“I've always been ambitious,” he said. “When I was in the third grade, I told my teacher I would be the next president.”
While his athletic career ended early, he said he feels he got a head start on other elite recruits who are just now dealing with life after football.
“The transition from football to real life wasn't that tough for me,” he said. “I know a lot of people struggle with it. I am thankful that the cards I was dealt were early in my career and not later. It gave me time to focus on what I'm going to do. A lot of times when we’re titled elite recruits, people have these expectations for us. If we don't meet those expectations, it can be damaging.”
Follow Jim Halley on Twitter @JimHalley.