HEMINGWAY - It was different in the old days, when Carl Geathers was growing up with his seven brothers. They were just another family in a tiny town in the Lowcountry.
The television had three channels, so the only games the boys were able to watch, Carl recalled, were those involving the South Carolina Gamecocks, in black-and-white.
"That was the only school we knew until TV started getting a little better and we started getting more channels," Carl said. "We always were Gamecock fans."
But never Gamecock athletes.
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The Geathers would go on to experience considerable success in athletics - all-conference selections in college, starting assignments in the NFL, even a Super Bowl championship.
Yet, when it came time to choose a college, all of the Geathers passed on USC.
Carl remembered this one recent afternoon, a few feet from where his son Carlton was breaking with family tradition: He was signing to play basketball for South Carolina.
But things are different now. The Geathers are no longer an unknown family from Georgetown. They are a brand name. And the Gamecocks, first with football player Clifton Geathers and now with his cousin Carlton, are finally in the family business.
By most accounts, the 6-foot-10 Carlton is a "project." His only other scholarship offers were from small schools, and he may redshirt next season at USC.
Then again, being a big man with small expectations is nothing new to a Geathers.
James Geathers, better known to NFL fans as "Jumpy," sat in the first row during Carlton's signing ceremony at Carvers Bay High School. Jumpy was holding a laminated copy of an article from the local paper on his nephew's commitment to USC.
Jumpy made his name in football. He owns a Super Bowl ring from the 1991 season with the Washington Redskins and spent 13 years in the NFL. Three of his sons played Division I football.
Jumpy was also the only previous Geathers, before Carlton, to play college basketball. The problem for Jumpy at Wichita State was the team included Columbia native Xavier McDaniel and Cliff Levingston, who both went on to NBA careers. That sped Jumpy's transition to football, a sport in which he had to prove himself.
So when he hears that his nephew is a long shot to succeed, Jumpy remains hopeful.
"When I came out of high school, I wasn't good," Jumpy said. "That's how I was. Every person I went to high school with said, 'I didn't know you were gonna be that good.' Competition brings the best out."
It did for Jumpy. It also did for his brother Robert, who played football at South Carolina State and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills. Each brother had three sons play major-college football. Among them, Robert Jr. is with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Clifton was drafted last month by the Cleveland Browns.
In all, eight Geathers have played Division I football, and three have been selected in the NFL draft.
"We challenge each other," Jumpy said." You have to outdo each other. And you want to be the first to do this, to do that. You just can't sit around and say, "OK, I play football, I play basketball."
Carl, the third-youngest of the eight brothers, was the only one not to play sports. He said he didn't see reason to - the other brothers had it covered, and he enjoyed having the house to himself while everyone else was at practice.
But when his son Carlton was 7, he announced to his father that he would be rich one day.
"I was like, OK, sure," Carl said. "But Carlton said, 'No, I'm serious, I'm gonna play in the NBA one day.'"
Three years later, when Carlton was 6 feet tall as a 10-year old, his father started believing.
But hurdles remain. At the Carvers Bay signing ceremony, boys basketball coach Jeff Mezzatesta addressed the crowd. He was both brutally honest - saying Carlton needs to have more confidence in himself - and full of affection.
"When you're seven foot tall, people expect you to be the best thing since sliced bread," Mezzatesta said. "(Carlton) is the best thing since sliced bread. But he needs a couple years to work on it. Because right now, he's just raw dough.
But, the coach added, if he works hard, he'll be great. The coach recounted how people had said Carlton couldn't play, but here he was signing a Division I scholarship.
"We've always believed in you," the coach said, looking at Carlton. "Five words: Do not let us down."
Jumpy had a similar perspective. He is happy for his nephew, of course, but this is a Geathers we're talking about; expectations are high
"He's gotta do better than this here," Jumpy said, pointing at the stage. "He's gotta go out there and make a name for himself."
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Carlton draped his legs over a couch in an office at Carvers Bay. In a tall family, he is the tallest.
What is it like to be a member of such a athletically successful family?
"You've always got an eye on you," Carlton said. "You've got to watch what you say, watch what you do. And it's a little bit of pressure, but not much."
He played one year of football, as a junior. He was a tight end, and good enough that football coach James Thompson believes he could have played in college.
But playing basketball later in the year, Carlton broke his kneecap coming down after an alley-oop. That cost him a chance to play summer AAU basketball and his senior season of football.
For a while, it seemed Carlton was destined to play for a small-college basketball program. But the Gamecocks kept sniffing around, and they offered him last month.
"It was a big dream, because I was probably gonna end up going to, nothing wrong (with it), but probably a little Division I school or whatnot," Carlton said. "But I'm happy."
Carlton will fill the Geathers void at USC, with Clifton having departed for the NFL. The cousins were a few years apart in age and didn't hang out much. Carlton was closer with Kwame, a sophomore defensive tackle at Georgia, and Clayton, who has signed to play defensive back at Central Florida.
Carlton is happy to cut his own path.
"It's probably easier because you have support; they (family members) want me to do well in it because I'm the first one really going into (basketball)," he said.
Jumpy is optimistic about his nephew. As he watched the signing ceremony, he mentioned how Carlton will have the benefit of USC's resources and, hopefully, a coaching staff that will push him.
There is one other factor.
"He's a Geathers," Jumpy said. "So whenever you push, him he'll get better."