Lake Havasu football fans gathered at Legendz Sports Bar downtown Friday evening for a special football game. The Cleveland Browns were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Lake Havasu City hometown boy Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi is hoping for a position as a wide receiver and kick returner for the Browns.
Sheehy-Guiseppi made a splash in his first pre-season game Aug. 8, against The Washington Redskins in a Cleveland win. He was the toast of all the sports pundits and press the next morning.
Proud mom Shawnah Sheehy was on hand Friday night for the special game watch party.
“I’m the proud mom of Devin, Damon and Dylan,” she said referring to her three sons.
“My youngest son, Dylan, had severe asthma. We moved here for a better climate and his health.” Sheehy said the family drove 40 hours from Travers City, Mich., “… three kids, the clothes on our back and a dog. The car broke down in the old Wal Mart parking lot on Labor Day weekend 1999.
Sheehy-Guiseppi was about to turn 5.
She said he liked to scooter mostly. “He would ride his bike down to the skate park. He played with friends, hiked, played basketball, football and hockey. He liked to be outdoors. He wasn’t a big video game guy,” she said.
“Oh, and chess. He was amazing at chess. He could beat me in five moves, maybe six. I taught him but he could beat me.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi played Pop Warner football from 2005 to 2009 in Havasu and mostly played wide receiver and running back, Sheehy said.
“So, he continued to do hockey in high school. He played baseball and basketball his freshman year and his sophomore year he concentrated on basketball,” she said.
“In his junior year, he decided to live with his dad part of the time and then with my dad in Travers City so he could play basketball with his brother.” Sheehy-Guiseppi didn’t play football in high school but he did play basketball and run track.
Sheehy said when her son graduated, he had a couple of private college opportunities, a couple Division 2 and a couple NAIA, but that that wasn’t the direction he wanted to go.
“The offers weren’t what he was looking for. He came back to Phoenix and tried out for a community college basketball team and he did not make it. He was terribly disappointed. He ran track and then he had a car accident. He took time off from college and worked as a door to door salesman selling security systems, worked out a lot, getting bigger.”
Sheehy said he played some flag football and played in a flag football tournament in Lake Havasu in 2014 and they won.
“He said, ‘I really like this. I think I can do this.’”
He did some research to find a school with the best opportunity for him to make the team. He chose Phoenix College and he showed up every day to the workout. They never said he was on the team but he just kept showing up.
“So, I think they finally acquiesced and said they should put him on the team,” Sheehy said.
Sheehy-Guiseppi did well his first year – 2015. But during his second year, he showed much improvement after working out and working really hard. He worked on getting bigger and on his speed by running track.
“He made a couple of touchdowns as a running back and the rest were made returning kicks. I have all of his touchdowns on video. I think he had nine that year,” she said.
During his first year, he was All Conference and his second, he made All American.
He expected offers to come his way, but they didn’t, so he took it upon himself to make something happen.
“He literally went to every team in the SEC in 2017 but he didn’t get any leads,” Sheehy said.
“I always told my kids that it was better to try than not to try at all.”
“He did have a plan, but he was disappointed and came back really down on himself,” she said. But Sheehy-Guiseppi continued working and his break finally came last spring.
“I told him he was good enough and he had worked hard enough and eventually someone would say yes,” she said.
He met with teams in Miami and he was invited to go to Cleveland to tryout for the Browns.
“I told him to get good sleep give it all you got. This is it. This is your chance. He called three hours after tryout and told me they wanted him to sign a contract. I was crying,” she said. He signed with the Browns April 5.
“He worked hard. He loved the team – everything about the team … everything about Cleveland.”
Sheehy was at that first pre-season game and almost missed his game-winning touchdown.
“Three minutes left on the clock. There was a lot of tension. Damon hadn’t gone in for a punt return yet and then they weren’t going to kick. I was texting and I looked up and I saw him running and I knew he was going to score a touchdown,” she said.
Later, Sheehy said he was so overwhelmed by all the attention following the game-winning touchdown.
“I haven’t done anything. I’m supposed to score when I get the ball – that’s my job,” he said.
Other family members were on hand Friday to cheer Sheehy-Guiseppi on.
Grandfather Cal Sheehy said, “I love it. I was a track star in high school, always been big on sports. So to watch all of my grandsons (play sports) is fun. They cost me a lot of money cause I had to buy sports packages on TV to watch them all. Dylan plays basketball out east, so had to buy extra sports channels. Damon is a hard worker, determined kid. He took my car to work out and never returned it so when he signed with the Browns I told him to keep it and buy me a Ferrari one day.”
Uncle Mayor Cal Sheehy said, “I am so proud of Damon and I am excited that he is living his dream. Damon has always been a hard worker and focused. His tenacity and hard work is an example for others.”
In a recent phone conversation with his mom, Sheehy-Guissepi said, “I’m most definitely feeling the love from all the support I’ve received from my hometown, Lake Havasu City. Just let everyone know how thankful I am for their continued support. I feel blessed to have the support of the community where I grew up.”
Shawnah Sheehy will be on hand at FirstEngergy Stadium – the home of the Cleveland Browns – for the final preseason game against the Detroit Lions Thursday. And Havasu will be watching, too.