This was no stranger that Darius Leonard saw stranded on the side of the road with her tire blown as he drove Easter morning in his hometown of Lake View, South Carolina.
That was Ms. Isbell, his high school biology teacher, all dressed up for church.
The Indianapolis Colts linebacker swerved off to the side of the road, grabbed a tire jack and started changing her wheel.
a man sitting on top of a grass covered field: Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is speedy at changing a tire, according to Martha Isbell.
© Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard is speedy at changing a tire, according to Martha Isbell.
“I was glad to see him,” said Martha Isbell, “because I knew I was safe with him there.”
Isbell posted a video of Leonard toiling on her car, which has been viewed more than 490,000 times on Twitter. On Facebook she posted: “Tire blew but God had a ‘Colt’ in the bush. Thank you so much Darius Leonard for your acts of kindness towards me. It could of gone another way, and I thank you Almighty God for holding back death on my behalf. To God be the glory.”
As media outlets shared the story, many mistakenly said Leonard randomly helped a stranger. Isbell was a tough mentor to Leonard in high school.
“He knew it was me,” she said. “If I had been a complete stranger, he still would have done it anyway. He cares enough to help anyone.”
He’s done a lot of growing up, she said, recalling Leonard as a high school student.
“Darius was finding himself at that time, so I was tough on him,” said Isbell, the girls junior varsity basketball coach and varsity assistant at Lake View. “He was the student that was kind of the class clown. He played a little bit. He had some friends and they wanted to make biology interesting. We had our differences.”
a person standing posing for the camera: Martha Isbell is the girls junior varsity basketball coach at Lake View High and the assistant girls varsity coach.
© Provided by Martha Isbell Martha Isbell is the girls junior varsity basketball coach at Lake View High and the assistant girls varsity coach.
Leonard, a second round draft pick by the Colts in 2018, had one of the best seasons in the league as a rookie linebacker. He led the NFL in tackles with 163, had seven sacks, and a pair of interceptions in earning All-Pro honors and helping the Colts make the AFC divisional playoffs.
Lake View and South Carolina can’t get enough of their hometown boy who made it big. After high school, he was a football standout at South Carolina State. Leonard is always back helping out the community, Isbell said. Last month, the city declared it Darius Leonard Day.
Leonard was home Sunday to do an Easter egg hunt for the kids.
“Darius does a lot for us. We’re proud of him,” said Isbell, now a physical education teacher at another school. “You never know what your students are going to be as an educator. You just know you’ve got to give them all that you’ve got.”
a baseball player holding a basketball: Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) sits on the sideline as the final seconds tick off the clock in the game against the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018.
© Matt Kryger/IndyStar Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Darius Leonard (53) sits on the sideline as the final seconds tick off the clock in the game against the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018.
Everyone knows Leonard’s talents on the field. But he was pretty darn good at changing that tire, said Isbell.
“Oh, he was real quick. The biggest issue was the jack. I had a pitiful jack and he worked with that jack until he got it right,” she said. “He wanted to make sure I had what I needed and was safe before he left.”
As he changed the tire, Isbell repeatedly thanked him. “Hey, no problem,” he is shown saying on the video.
“Thank the Lord for angels…” she says to him. Isbell made it to church for Easter.
“And he just kept going,” she said, “like it was nothing.”
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