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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 22, 2003

Jeremiah has brought joy to Hawai'i's world

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Curses to Three Dog Night.

UH's Jeremiah Cockheran leaves a trail of Alabama Crimson Tide players behind on this touchdown reception.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Curses to their song that brings no joy to Jeremiah Cockheran's world and, double curses to that opening line that plays like a chalkboard scratch on his nerves.

Jeremiah was a bullfrog ...

"I hate that song," said Cockheran, the University of Hawai'i football team's starting right wide receiver.

Kids would sing it to him all the time. At school. On the practice field. On the street during games of tag football. "Oh, yeah, like I never heard that before," he would mutter after each rendition. A coach used to sing it to him before games.

He was so irritated, he had it up to here — here! — that the next person who sang it to him would get it. And then ...

Jeremiah was a bullfrog ...

"I beat up this kid," Cockheran recalled. Between punches, "he told me, 'You can't beat me up, your name's in the Bible.' "

Cockheran remembered how his grandmother gave him the Biblical name because he was expected to be special; how his mother once told him: "Fight with your mind, not with your fists."

"The kid was right," Cockheran said, smiling at the memory. "I ended up apologizing to him."


Mother was inspiration

Cockheran's game-by-game statistics

Appl. State
7-154 yds
3 TDs

at USC
1 TD

0 TD

0 TD

at Tulsa

Fresno St.

at La. Tech
1 TD

1 TD

0 TD

at Nevada
0 TD

0 TD

2 TD

Boise St.
1 TD

To understand how Cockheran became the Warriors' team leader — an African-American from California selected as co-captain of a mostly Polynesian team after living in Hawai'i for only 12 months — is to understand his inspiration, his mother LueRether.

Nearly 20 years ago, LueRether, deciding to leave the ruins of an irreparable marriage, withdrew every last cent from her bank account, packed up her five children — ages 6 years old to 3 weeks — and moved from New Orleans.

She headed for California, where "I didn't know no one. ... I wanted peace of mind."

Living off the savings, LueRether, a registered nurse, took the refresher courses needed to earn her nursing license in California.

Still, the budget was tight, and LueRether sometimes would go to sleep hungry.

"She never complained," Jeremiah said. "There were many nights when she went to bed with no food in her mouth to make sure we had food."

LueRether said: "I made sure they ate. I didn't worry about me. I was OK as long as they were OK."

LueRether's work schedule often changed, but she didn't tell her children because she wanted to make surprise inspections at their school. On her off days, she volunteered in the school cafeteria.

"I wanted to know where they were at all times," she said of her three sons and two daughters. "I wanted to keep up with them, to make sure they didn't hang out with the wrong people."

LueRether said she rarely worried about her middle child, even when she came home to find Jeremiah's hair dyed bright orange.

"That was around the time Dennis Rodman was popular," she said. "He put Kool-Aid in his hair to turn it orange. That phase lasted a day."

LueRether said alliances were formed between Jeremiah's older brother and sister and younger brother and sister.

"If they did something wrong, they always pointed at Jerry," she said. "He gave up. He always came home and said, 'OK, I did it.' He didn't even know what he was accused of doing, but he knew he couldn't win."

But LueRether said Jeremiah showed "how much he cared about his brothers and sisters. He wanted to be responsible. I told him I was in charge, but he always wanted to be the man of the house."

LueRether said Jeremiah assumed that role when his older brother, Antoine, joined the military after high school.

Jeremiah Cockheran facts
  • Position: Wide receiver
  • Height: 6 feet
  • Weight: 190
  • Class: Senior
  • Hometown: Fontana, Calif.
  • Birthdate: Jan. 11, 1981

2002: Played 12 games ... fiinished third on team with 731 yards ... had 5 TD receptions and 49 catches ... had career-high 207 yards on 9 catches against Alabama

"It was hard not having him around, but it was my turn to step up in the family since my mom is a single mom,"Jeremiah said.

Jeremiah said he tried to follow his mother's leadership traits. "Raising a family by herself was hard, but she kept us together as a unit," he said. "She's always been there for us. She loved every child individually, in their own way. She taught me to treat each person with respect."

On Father's Day, LueRether receives cards and gifts from her children. "She's a mother and a father to us," Jeremiah said.

"He's such a great guy," UH quarterback Jason Whieldon said of his roommate. "He comes off real tough. He tries to be the tough guy, but he's real nice inside. He's got a hard shell but he's soft inside."

"It's my eyes," Cockheran said. "Everyone says I have evil eyes. I'm not evil. Everybody says I look mad. It's the way my eyebrows are, I guess. At times, I can be sitting here thinking about something and somebody will come up and say, 'Why are you mad?' I'm not mad. I like people."

And his teammates like him, voting him offensive captain during training camp in August.

"He's a leader, and I think the players sensed that," UH coach June Jones said. "He's very competitive and he works hard."

Jeremiah, the prophet

Since their days of tag football on the streets of Fontana, Calif., best friends Cockheran and Justin Colbert dreamed of playing college football together. As high school seniors, both received scholarship offers from the University of Hawai'i. Colbert met the NCAA requirements to play as a UH freshman, but Cockheran did not. Colbert, also a receiver, became a three-year starter at UH, completing his career last season. After attending a junior college, Cockheran enrolled at UH in August 2002.

LueRether said: "When he was about 10 or 11 years old, he said, 'Mom, I'm going to Hawai'i. I'm going to marry a girl from Hawai'i.' He wasn't into sports at the time, but I said, 'OK.' Look at him now. He's in Hawai'i, and he has a nice girlfriend (from Kailua). I'm not surprised."

After all, Jeremiah was a prophet.

• • •

Career statistics
G Rec. Yards Avg. TD Long
2002 12 49 731 14.9 5 70
2003 11 56 835 14.9 9 54