CHICAGO (CBS) — After starting for the San Francisco 49ers for three years, offensive lineman Chilo Rachal was benched last season, but not much rattles this new Bear.
CBS 2’s Megan Mawicke reports Rachal has survived the rough streets of Compton, California, the death of two brothers, and sacrificed his own college career to put his family first.
Chilo Rachal is looking to bounce back from a rough season with the Niners, but long before that, he bounced back from a rough start in life.
“I learned fast. I was forced to grow up fast as a young’un. My dad went away for a while. We were living house to house for a year and half. We stayed at people’s house, in backhouses, and my grandma’s house,” he said.
So the football field became Rachal’s home. He went on to earn a scholarship at USC, but after his junior year, his father Charles suffered two hernias plus severe knee problems, and his mother Veronica told him she had a tumor in her stomach the size of a 6-month-old child. She was in dire need of medical attention.
“My mom had a tumor in her stomach and she didn’t have any insurance so I had to do what was best for us,” said Rachal.
Rachal put aside his personal goals and left college early to enter the draft to help pay for his parents medical bills. Many draft analysts said, if he had stayed in college, he would have been a high first rounder.
“I’ve always been a person who makes wise decisions and I knew I wasn’t leaving for the wrong reasons. I was leaving for the right decisions. I can sleep at night knowing my mom and dad have good insurance and their healthy now,” said Rachal.
Rachal had already suffered enough heartbreak. He had two brothers gunned down in gang violence on the tough streets of Los Angles. He doesn’t remember his one brother Lamont, but he will never forget the day Lamarus passed. Rachal was just eight years old.
“It was painful. I was with him with for his last breathe. We got the call and went to the hospital. I was next to his bed and he squeezed my hand. We lost him. That motivates me and to see my mom and dad’s face at that time – it just motivates me to continue to do the right thing just for him,” said Rachal.
So how was Rachal able to stay away from gang violence?
“I always walked a different direction when I saw trouble walking my way,” he said.
Now he’s looking to start a positive journey with the Bears.
“This is a blessing for the Bears to bring me in and give me another shot to compete for a job. I love football with a passion,” he said.