COCOA, Fla. – It was a really a big deal for the city of Cocoa, Cocoa High School and the family of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Jamel Dean on Saturday.
A few hundred people came out for a celebration to honor the 24-year-old Dean, a member of the Buccaneers team that won Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.
“It’s a great feeling showing that everyone acknowledging my accomplishments, but it’s bigger than me. It’s about inspiring the younger generation that’s coming up,” Dean said.
A former player at Cocoa High School and Auburn, Dean received arguably the highest recognition the city of Cocoa can give anyone, a key to the city.
His mother said her son never gave up and he always kept his grades first.
“He had to maintain that 3.0 average, because I didn’t play about those grades,” she said.
Everyone called him a humble guy who deserves this honor. After all, many know him as a college graduate, a mentor and now a Super Bowl winner.
“Joy, happiness, just so excited,” said Barbara Dean, Jamel’s grandmother.
Michael Blake, Mayor of Cocoa, said Dean deserved it.
“He sat in the same chairs as the young students and they look up to him and he’s a very, very valuable young man,” Blake said.
The city also declared Feb. 7 as Jamel Dean Day, and his family is still so happy about it.
“He’s the best thing that ever come from the Dean family,” said Johnny Dean, Jamel’s cousin. “First and foremost, he graduated from college with honors before even making it to the NFL.”
“My message is never give up. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do,” Jamel Dean said.