Sometimes the public places extraordinary athletes on a pedestal, way above other athletes.
There are the Michael Jordans, the John Elways and the Mark McGwires of the sports world. These stars are icons for a city and, sometimes, a nation.
Then the public finds out some player's dark secret - see Kobe Bryant - and realizes the athlete wasn't as great as he was advertised.
One Columbia County athlete is as great as advertised.
Evans' Cheng Ho is the kind of player any coach would dream of having.
Before Friday's game against archrival Lakeside, Ho led the county in rushing with 653 yards and nine touchdowns. He's also the fourth-leading receiver on the best passing team in the county. He was a member of The News-Times' inaugural "Super Nine" team.
His athletic endeavors will land him a scholarship to play college football, but he deflects any accolades to his teammates.
After the three Evans games I've covered, Ho has asked me to talk to the offensive linemen after talking to him.
"Did you see that block that my line had?" asked Ho after rushing for 278 yards against Greenbrier. "If it wasn't for them, then I wouldn't get any yards."
But he's also the kind of person any parent would dream of raising.
He is kind and soft-spoken, yet has a sense of humor and is charismatic.
"Cheng's the kind of guy I'd want to date my daughter," Evans coach Marty Jackson said. "He's just a fantastic person and has great character."
Before Ho ran for 147 yards against his defense, Harlem defensive coordinator Lonnie Morris said: "He's a phenomenal kid. Every coach wants a guy like that."
Greenbrier coach Mickey Derrick said Ho is one of the best student athletes to come across the area.
"You will never hear someone say a negative thing about him," he said. "That's because there are no negative things to say about him."
The toughest hits Ho has had to take, though, weren't on the football field.
Imagine that, as a 13-year-old boy, your father passed away. After his death, you had to move to Taiwan and learn Mandarin Chinese to get by.
That is the reverse of what Ho had to do.
After the death of his father in Taiwan, Ho moved to Martinez and became a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School.
He spoke no English, and had to use an electronic translator and hand signals to overcome the language barrier.
"I couldn't imagine the difficulty in trying to learn a new language out of necessity," Jackson said. "Only because I know Cheng would I believe that story."
Ho, recently named homecoming king at Evans, has now erased the language barrier - although he says he has trouble reading word problems on tests such as the SAT - and is still ranked in the top five of his class.
"That's Cheng Ho," said receiver Tim Steflik. "You expect the impossible from him. He deserves every ounce of attention he receives. The guy has a heart of gold."
Ho inspires his teammates on and off the field.
In the Knights' 20-17 win over Effingham County, Ho returned from a first-quarter aggravation of a high ankle sprain to help his team overtake Effingham.
Even though the injury, which usually sidelines players for two to four weeks, had bothered Ho for the past three games, he didn't miss any of them.
Ho returned in the third quarter, but could muster just an 11-yard run.
It didn't matter.
His Willis Reed-esque return inspired his team to bounce back and win.
"Cheng's return to the game lifted us up," Jackson said. "What an athlete. That kid has guts."
Jackson and the rest of the Knights have devised a short saying when Ho has an unbelievable game or makes an impact in the classroom:
"That's just Cheng Ho."
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