Cowboys player 'helpless' as family struggles in Haiti


by Todd Archer / Dallas Morning News

Posted on January 22, 2010 at 6:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 22 at 6:40 PM

IRVING – For more than a week, Steve Octavien has felt helpless.

Although the Cowboys’ backup linebacker has never been to Haiti, the tiny country tugs at him because it is where his parents grew up and where many in his family still call home.

The Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Haiti, reportedly killing 200,000 and injuring 250,000 more, had Octavien questioning whether he should be playing.

“I almost asked [coach Wade Phillips] if I could go home,” said Octavien, who’s from Belle Glade, Fla., “but at the same time I knew it was a test of endurance, and there are going to be times like this through your life. You’ve got to learn how to push through.”

Text messages poured in last week that friends and family had died or were among the missing. In the midst of the bad news came word that one of his friends, Johnsley Duprat, survived after a Port-au-Prince supermarket collapsed.

“I found out later that he ran out of the store but no one else did and there were no survivors,” Octavien said.

He learned an uncle was not in the city when the quake hit and that a cousin left just two hours earlier.

“For my parents, that’s ground zero for us,” Octavien said. “They have a house there. Nine people were living there, and they don’t really know what happened to them. I’m just praying that everything will turn out good.”

Octavien hopes to link up with a foundation soon to travel to Haiti to help, and he plans to donate money for the recovery. The NFL donated $2.5 million this week.

“I have to go,” Octavien said. “My heart was hurting real bad. But you know what’s been really cool? How the whole world came to help. Just to see a tragedy like that happen to Haiti and see everybody come together, it’s been amazing.”