In this week's Miami New Times, we profile 30 of the most interesting characters in town, with portraits of each from photographer Stian Roenning. See the entire Miami New Times People Issue here.
Glance at Brent Grimes' resumé before he joined the Dolphins last year and you'd be hard-pressed to imagine him as the type of player who'd get adrenaline flowing at Sun Life Stadium. Standing only five-foot-ten, Grimes played college ball at the tiny Shippensburg University in his native Pennsylvania and didn't get so much as a sniff from NFL scouts on draft day.
But you can't measure heart with a yardstick. And in just a season and a half in South Florida, Grimes' gritty play and crazy athleticism have already marked him as a fan favorite on a resurgent Fins team. When it comes to the Magic City, Grimes says the feeling is mutual.
"It hasn't been tough adjusting to living in Miami at all. My wife, son, mom, and I all moved down here, and we love it here," Grimes says. "The people, the team, the coaches, the players, really everyone around has treated me great. I really like it here."
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Grimes grew up idolizing another undersize yet wildly talented athlete: 76ers guard Allen Iverson. With his small frame, though, Grimes ended up playing college ball at Division II Shippensburg, where his three nods as an All-American weren't enough to nab an NFL contract. He headed instead to Hamburg, Germany, to play in NFL Europe, where he promptly won a title. The next year, he fought for a roster spot with the Atlanta Falcons and even made the Pro Bowl in 2010. But the Falcons gave up on him after he missed 2012 with an Achilles injury and let him leave for Miami in the off-season.
Since joining the Fins, Grimes has become an all-out superhero on the gridiron, earning the nickname "Optimus Grimes" for a high-flying style that has netted nine interceptions and another trip to the Pro Bowl last year. The team returned the favor this past off-season, signing him to a four-year, $32 million deal, and as the Fins have rolled to a winning start in 2014, Grimes has been a key leader in the locker room.
Off the field, he's already morphed into a typical Floridian. "When the season is over, I'll go to some of my wife's tennis matches or play a little basketball, but just when I'm kicking it, I like to get out to the beach to hang out and relax," he says.
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Grimes admits, though, he's holding out on one key South Florida issue: He'll still take a cheesesteak over a Cuban sandwich any day of the week. "I'll have to try some more [Cuban sandwiches], but when I'm in the mood to eat something not too healthy, I'll eat a cheesesteak."
Thanks to his new deal, Miami looks likely to be Grimes' home for a while. And whenever his playing days are over, don't be surprised to find him back on the sand in South Beach.
"Some people might have a problem with the heat," he says, "but as long as I got air conditioning, I'm good."