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2009 NFL Draft Diary, Entry No. 5

This is Aaron Curry's fifth and final draft diary entry -- the others can be found here -- but it's not the end of the chronicle of his experience. SI.com writer Ted Keith, who spoke to Curry for these entries, will be with Curry all weekend in New York. Be sure to check SI.com for behind-the-scenes blog posts on Saturday and a longer feature next week on Curry's big weekend in the Big Apple.

This has been a busy and special time in my life, and it's not just because of the draft. My girlfriend, Jamila, and I got engaged March 31. She recently bought me a retriever puppy, which we named Layla, for my birthday. We were just hanging out at home and she took Layla downstairs to use the bathroom, and while she was down there I put the ring in Layla's kennel. When Jamila came back, I told her Layla had made a mess in the kennel and it was her turn to clean it up. When she saw the ring, she was so excited. She was totally caught off guard, she had no clue.

She was thinking we would get engaged, but she didn't think it would be anytime soon. I knew in December that I was going to marry her and propose to her and it took me a little while to figure out how I was going to do it. I had three or four ideas, but I didn't know she was getting me a dog. Layla was new to the family, so I felt including her was the way to go.

Other than that, I've been really busy trying to get ready for the draft. I probably get a phone call every 10 minutes, between my agent, who's always working hard, having to do media, and teams and scouts calling me. Every team has called me and they want to know my draft day phone number and get some background information on me. I don't know what that's about. My draft day phone number is the same phone number they used to call me.

In the past few weeks, I had a couple more team visits to make. I was in St. Louis with a bunch of other players, such as Mark Sanchez and Demetrius Byrd. They sent us to Dave & Buster's the first night and we just played video games all night. I found the machine that gave out a ton of tickets no matter what, but we didn't tally up tickets. Toward the end, we just gave our tickets to the kids who were there.

After that I went to Kansas City to meet with the Chiefs. I enjoyed my dinner with general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley. The next day they were in minicamp, so I didn't get to do much, although I did meet with the VP of scouting and the director of scouting. I was also able to sit down with my old high school teammate DeMarcus Tyler and just talk about life and some of his NFL experiences. He was a year ahead of me, but we were good friends in high school, and we'd talk every now and then and he'd keep me updated about his life and what it's like to be in the NFL. He was telling me everything's going to happen fast and that reliability and responsibility are so important in the NFL. I'm going to heed his advice.

I've met with so many teams, been to so many different cities and I still don't have one team I want to play for. I wish I could play for all of them. I've enjoyed all my visits and all the GMs. Every city I went to I wish I could play in. When I was on the visits and watching their films, I tried to envision myself in their jersey, in their defense. I tried to envision myself flying around and playing with them.

Detroit and Kansas City probably seemed more real than the others because in Detroit I can play middle linebacker and in Kansas City I would be back with DeMarcus Tyler. It would be so much fun flying around together and making plays together. He told me it was a great city and the fans were awesome there because they're never disappointing.

I just want to know my final destination. If I knew where I was going, I'd be in that city right now working out. I'm excited, anxious and nervous all at the same time. There's a lot of emotions for my family, too, although they're mostly just happy to see me have the opportunity to live out my life-long dream. I'm going to have about 17 or 18 people with me in New York. I've never been there myself, and I can't wait to see what Times Square is all about.

Jamila is coming, of course, plus my older brothers, my mom, all my aunts and uncles, my cousins and my grandparents. The NFL provided us with four flights, so my mom, my two brothers and I are flying commercial. We got Jamila a plane ticket and everybody else is hopping on the train because they're not too fond of planes, so they're going to take the train from Fayetteville, N.C., to New York, and some of my aunts and uncles are taking it from the D.C. area.

There's one other person who's going to be with me in New York. My thing was I wanted to touch the life of a kid. Going through the combine, one of my goals was to end up in New York. I told my agent I wanted to take someone with me, and my agent decided St. Jude hospital was the best place for it. When we called them they were really excited. They chose the kid, whose name is Bryson Merriweather, an 11-year-old boy from Alabama who's battling leukemia. I was in Memphis last Sunday and he had no clue what was going on; he just thought he was giving me a tour. At the end I asked him if he would come up to New York with me, I told him he would be the youngest player drafted in the NFL.

Bryson said that football saved his life. He was at football practice one day and he was having chest pains, a hard time breathing. When he saw the doctor, they told him it was leukemia. If the doctor hadn't been there, they would have never found out. I think Bryson and I have that in common. Football saved both our lives. In Fayetteville, where I'm from, life is hard. Football has always allowed me to cope with all my stresses and be free, and because it was so important to me I was able to avoid doing drugs and hanging out in the streets. I feel like football was my anti-drug, my anti-violence.

This is not about me, it's about Bryson and raising awareness of the children at the St. Jude Children's Hospital and leukemia in general. We want to get more people to become donors for bone marrow transplants. Bryson's cancer is in remission, but he was in a situation where if it came back he'd need a donor, and even though they have a database of eight million people, they didn't have one match for him. He was very lucky in the sense that he had a baby brother, Brian, who was just born, and the doctor said his brother is a match for him in case he needs it.

As soon as I get some free time after this draft, my plan is to sign up and register to become a donor. I've never experienced leukemia in my family or friends, but his story is so powerful and so moving, I want to get more people to become donors. One person at a time could give all the children at St. Jude so much more hope.

St. Jude is an amazing place, I suggest as many people as can go tour the campus and get a feeling for what they do there. It's more than just a hospital, that's for sure. My mom and all my associates have always told me that life isn't about what you can do for yourself, it's about what you can do for others. My idea is to take advantage of being an NFL player and really giving back to the community and helping others.

It's a great feeling, being able to bring Bryson, and a great feeling that this draft process is finally coming to an end. I can't wait for my career to get going. I don't know what it will feel like to finally hear my name called, but I do know it's going to be a powerful moment.

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