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The Truth Behind Marshawn and Those Skittles
December rain in Seattle is nothing out of the ordinary. But when it rains Skittles at CenturyLink Field, that’s extraordinary.
And it did just that last season, as Marshawn Lynch’s habit of munching Skittles on the sideline became a national obsession as TV cameras caught the Seahawks’ leading rusher doing just that during back-to-back primetime games against the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams in December.
Lynch scored twice against the Eagles and once against the Rams, and was greeted by a shower of Skittles from the stands as exuberant fans celebrated his sweet-toothed success – and obsession.
Asked his reaction to the whole world getting a peek at his sideline ritual, Lynch initially wasn’t sure what to say. Then he offered, “I think people got it mixed up, like it’s a prize that I get Skittles for scoring a touchdown.”
Lynch paused and heaved a sigh before adding, “If you want to know the truth, you’ve got to ask my mama.”
So Delisa Lynch, what is the truth behind what has become the Skittles phenomenon?
“When Marshawn was 12 or 13, we’d go to his games and I’d always have little candies in my purse,” Lynch’s mama explained. “Before the game, I would say, ‘Here Marshawn, come and get you power pellets.’
“I would give him a handful of Skittles and say, ‘Eat ’em up, baby. They’re going to make you run fast and they’re going to make you play good.”
Delisa Lynch then laughed. Part of her joy was just retelling the story that so few actually know; part of it was the bewilderment she shares with her son over the way the story was mangled last season.
“So that’s where it comes from,” she said. “I don’t know about that touchdown-reward story, because everybody was saying this and everybody was saying that. But I would just say, ‘They don’t even know the half of it.’
“The real is story is, I would give him Skittles before the game when he was playing Pop Warner.”
That, of course, was just the introductory chapter in the saga that has become Lynch munching Skittles. It continued during his career at Oakland Technical High School. It carried over to his days at the University of California at Berkeley. It has followed him to Seattle and the Seahawks.
“In high school, I had his power pellets,” Delisa Lynch said. “Then at Cal, they would buy them by the case because they knew his mama gave him his Skittles.”
Offered Marshawn, “It really took off in college, when they gave me a pack of Skittles on the sideline at Cal. But it didn’t blow up the way it has like this.”
It could be that Seahawks fans are just hungry for any feel-good story, and also that the Skittles-munching Lynch has captured their passion with his Beast Mode running style since coming to the Seahawks in a trade with the Buffalo Bills during the 2010 season.
After a slow start that first season (573 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 12 games), Lynch took off last season with career-highs in rushing yards (1,204) and touchdowns (13) – and so did the Skittles connection.
His mama has watched in amusement and amazement at the reaction to something she started all those years ago.
“I saw him take a handful of Skittles from somebody on the sideline and put them in his mouth,” she said. “I said, ‘They’re giving my baby his power pellets, they’d better watch out.’
“I’m totally surprised by what the reaction has been.”
And it has followed Delisa, as well as her famous son.
“I went to a new church, and somebody in the congregation must have known that I was Marshawn’s mom,” she said. “Because this little guy came up to me and said, ‘The pastor wants to know if you’ve got any Skittles.’ That was the funniest thing.”
From Marshawn’s mom to the Skittles Lady. But Delisa is embracing the notoriety.
“I’ve got pictures on my Facebook page with my Skittles at work and my Seattle jersey on,” said Delisa, who works for AT&T.
To say she is a proud mother doesn’t come close to describing Delisa’s relationship with her oldest child – she also has a daughter, Marreesah, 23; and a younger son, Devonte, 19, who is a running back at Contra Costa Community College.
“Priceless” is the word she chose. “And it’s really funny, because I remember him playing Pop Warner and I was at every single game,” she said.
She got her first glimpse of what Marshawn might be able to become when he was playing junior varsity football in high school.
“Everybody came up to me and said, ‘Your son, he is such an amazing player. He’s really good. He’s going places,’ ” she recalled. “They were telling me this when he was a freshman in high school.”
Lynch moved to the varsity as a sophomore, and it was during his junior year that the recruiting letters starting coming from colleges and universities.
“When I found out my baby could go to college and get a scholarship, I just felt blessed,” she said. “He’s just such an amazing kid.”
Who has grown into an amazing player, and a unique person. But that doesn’t surprise his mother.
“I’ll tell you why, and nobody knows this either,” Delisa said. “When I was pregnant with Marshawn, he was supposed to have a twin. When I had Marshawn, another placenta came out. That’s when the midwife said, ‘Don’t be surprised if he’s an amazingly strong child.’
“So Marshawn is a twin to himself.”
One that has been fueled by power pellets since an early age.