Seahawks lineman D.J. Fluker overcomes two natural disasters, homelessness during journey to NFL

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: D.J. Fluker #78 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on while warming up prior to taking on the Dallas Cowboys during their game at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

RENTON, Wash– We’re putting a spotlight on Seahawks offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and we need a big one for him. He’s six-feet, five-inches tall and 342 pounds.

Even more impressive than his massive frame is what Fluker was able to overcome during his path to the NFL. It’s why he calls himself “The Warrior” on social media.

Fluker said, “For me, ‘The Warrior’ stands for all of the things I’ve been through.”

He’s been through a lot, starting when he was 14 years old.

When Hurricane Katrina breached the levees in New Orleans in 2005, flooding the city’s Lower Ninth Ward, Fluker and his family escaped, just hours before their home filled with water.

“We had nowhere to go,” Fluker recalled. “We were bouncing around from place to place trying to find out where to go. Some days we were sleeping in cars. Some days we’d be trying to find our next meal. That’s kind of how it was.”

NEW ORLEANS – SEPTEMBER 24: Houses and vehicles are seen in the flooded Lower Ninth Ward September 24, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Lower Ninth Ward was flooded again when waters overtopped a levee on the Industrial Canal as Hurricane Rita passed through the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, just over three weeks after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the region. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For Fluker, it was a time for self-reflection.

“I learned about myself, I was stronger than I thought I was,” Fluker said.

While he relied on that emotional strength, it was Fluker’s physical strength in high school, that got him noticed.

Fluker played in the 2009 Army Bowl on national television as one of the top recruits in the country. He was drawn to one of the nation’s top programs, The University of Alabama.

NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 09: D.J. Fluker #76 and William Ming #56 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrate after defeating Louisiana State University Tigers in the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Alabama won the game by a score of 21-0. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Again, he would be tested — this time, by a tornado.

“I seen this big tornado, swirling around Tuscaloosa,” Fluker recounted from April 27th, 2011. “I’m stuck. I’m stunned. I’m seeing this big thing in the air going crazy.”

He rode out the storm inside a building on campus. The tornado in Tuscaloosa in 2011 took 64 lives and for the second time in his life, a natural disaster wiped out the place Fluker called home.

Fluker said, “My place was destroyed. I had a (Ford) Mustang on top of my bathtub.”

Cars and homes lay in ruins in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, April 29, 2011, two days after a tornado ripped through the area damaging neighborhoods and killing more than 300 across the Southern US. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Many people, after having their homes destroyed by two separate weather events, could consider themselves cursed. Not Fluker.

“I was like, I got lucky,” he said. “I got real lucky. If I didn’t go through that, I don’t think I’d be the guy I am today.”

It’s also changed his approach to the game of football.

“It’s made me more passionate about it,” Fluker said.

He’s also embracing life. He has two young sons and a newborn daughter. He just recently got engaged.

The Warrior, who appreciates how far he’s come, while never forgetting where he’s been.

“No matter what you’re going through,” Fluker said. “You could be homeless, struggling. No money in your pocketbook. It’s about how bad you want something.”

SEATTLE, WA – DECEMBER 02: D.J. Fluker #78 of the Seattle Seahawks during pre-game warmups before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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