Baltimore Raven draft pick's heartbreaking journey to the NFL, Gator turns tragedy into motivation

Elam has lost three siblings, and his father

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- - In the blink of an eye, the life of Matt Elam changed forever.

Hours of waiting by the phone and watching television finally ended for Elam when he heard his named called out in the 2013 NFL Draft.

The Palm Beach County football product and Florida Gator was the last to be picked, where he is now headed to the Baltimore Ravens.

It is the start of a new journey and the end to what has been a long road full of both triumph and tragedy.

"It's a great opportunity, It's a great opportunity a lot of people don't get," said Elam.

Playing professional football on Sundays is also an opportunity that did not happen for Elam.

"It was violent. It was violence and crime in the neighborhood. Break-ins and killings," said Addie Elam-Lewis, Matt Elam's mother.

The Riviera Beach neighborhood Matt Elam grew up in, is stained with heartache and loss.

First it was his sister Christina.

Then it was his brothers Donald and Donald.

All shot, all killed, and it all happened just feet from home.

"It feels like a dagger in your chest and it's just sitting there. And it took years, it took years for it to like gradually go away. And as soon as that eased up, boom, there goes another," said Addie Elam-Lewis.

After losing three siblings, Matt Elam's father passed away.

"He looked up to his dad. His dad was his everything," said Addie Elam-Lewis.

Matt pushed on after suffering tragedy after tragedy. He capped off an incredible career as a Florida Gator. He used his situation as motivation.

"Understanding that I'm tired of the frowns, the tears and the funerals and things like that. I was like I'm going to turn this around," said Elam.

What was just another boy running around the streets of Riviera Beach, is now a role model to those who, like Matt Elam, are chasing their dreams. 

"It's just an example and a sample of what can happen if you desire to do something," said Addie Elam-Lewis. "It starts with a desire."

Matt Elam has already took a trip to Baltimore to meet with his new team.

His mother said she is already looking at housing in Maryland.

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