A story of resiliency: Alex Highsmith makes NFL debut for Steelers

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Former Ashley High School football standout Alex Highsmith made his NFL debut on Monday night for the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo: ESPN)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Former Ashley High School football standout Alex Highsmith saw a dream become a reality on Monday night. The Charlotte graduate made his NFL debut with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

His debut brought nothing but pure joy to his parents Sam and Pamela Highsmith as their watched from their home. Just four months ago, Alex was sitting on his couch here in Wilmington when his name was called in the 2020 NFL draft. He would go from a walk-on in college to suiting up for the “Steel Curtain” defense in just five years. His father says it’s a story of not only hard work, but resilience.

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“It is a crazy story; a story of resilience, definitely of faith, and hard work,” Alex’s father Sam Highsmith said. “You know we say a lot that work hard will get you there, sometimes you work hard and you still aren’t fortunate enough to get what you want. It just happen to be he had great opportunities and he took advantage of all of them.”

Highsmith went from not winning a game his senior year of high school to becoming a walk-on at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. His last year wearing the 49er colors he was even named an All-American. Monday night, in the 3rd quarter of Pittsburgh’s first game he added another chapter into that book by recording his first NFL tackle.

His family was disappointed they couldn’t make it up to New York for his NFL debut, but they said there’s still something special about watching their son on TV from the comfort of their own home.

“You know we hated not being there, but I understand that it is what it is,” Sam Highsmith said. “This will be the first, first that I have missed in his sports career, but hey I couldn’t have asked for a better way to see it. It was me and my wife here at home and the world watching too, it was kind of cool.”

The Steelers went onto beat the New York Giants 26-16 in Highsmith’s first NFL game and his family knows the Port City will be there with him through it all.

The last player from Wilmington to play in the NFL was Jonathan Cooper back in 2018.