Good bye Eli Woodard and hello Eli Apple.
Before the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Ohio State commit leaves home for San Antonio to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and then ultimately to Columbus to play for the Buckeyes, he will change his last name to honor the man that has raised him. The change, first announced on Thursday night at a private going away party, will take effect immediately as the star corner released a statement on Friday morning.
"A wise man once stated, 'Fatherhood is not biology. Fatherhood is responsibility.' From the time I was two years old my dad, Timothy Apple, has been my father. He's nurtured, provided, and protected our family. I am the man I am today because of his tireless love, and commitment to our family. So it is with great pride and honor to carry his last name. I am truly blessed to be Eli Apple. Go Bucks!"
The change has been in the works for quite some time but the Rivals100 defensive back felt that now was the appropriate time to make the change public.
"Tim has been Dad for him for about 15 years, since he was about two," Eli's mother Annie Apple said. "Not only in title, but he's been hands on. Me not personally growing up with a dad and having my husband be a loving, hands on, committed father is one of the biggest blessings of my life."
"We were living in New York City when I was working in television and Tim won volunteer of the year at our elementary school," she continued. "He was just that much into the boys' education and what they needed. That is just how much hands on of a father that he has always been and Eli finally adopting his last name is just an honor."
The above story is just one of many examples over the years of a man that from a very early point in Eli's life, accepted a role that he was not legally obligated to accept, not just as a provider but as the total package of being a father.
"Eli has always been an Apple in our hearts," she said. "Tim has always been dad. Eli is excited about doing it. Ever since he was two years old, whether it was going outside and throwing the ball around or whatever it was that the boys needed, Tim has been there nurturing him. We have always found what it was that each of our children wanted and tried to nurture that. He has two older brothers and one that just graduated recently wants to be an animator, so it hasn't just been sports, it has been the total role of being a parent and just helping a child discover what they enjoy doing and what they were meant to do. Tim has always done that for them."
With a diverse family coming from many different backgrounds, the Apple's have developed a refreshing perspective on what it really means to be a dad.
"For him and for us, it has never been about biology," she said. "Tim is bi-racial but he was adopted when he was six weeks old and both of my in-laws are white, so for him fatherhood has never been about biology, it has been about responsibility. For Eli, he thinks about one day when he's getting married, what name he wants his family to have, and you want that name to mean the world to you. That is really what Tim has meant to our family."
Eli Apple will take the field for the first time on January 5th in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on NBC.