Just two years ago, Charles James II was living in an Orlando motel. Just a few hours away from his hometown of Jacksonville, the undrafted prospect wanted to train and prepare himself for the NFL. Living on a shoe-string budget, he didn't want to burden his mother but he didn't have an agent either. He was his only chance to make it.
"I ended up pulling money out of my own pocket here and there to try and stay at a hotel and be able to manage," James said in an interview with Texans Radio. "I knew I wanted to train there and I had to do certain things to eat. I had to buy certain things to eat just to make it last for breakfast and stuff like that."
James would buy a dozen glazed donuts and stretch it out to make it last for his breakfast. He would go train every day and then find fast food or Chinese takeout, any option that was cheap to fuel his body through workouts.
He laughs about it now, but he never forgets how difficult that time was. While other players could rely on their agents, James had to fire his because "he was a jerk." Everything seemed to be a struggle at the time.
"I have motivation from that," James said. "The intensity you see me play with, the fire that you see me play with, I think about some of those reasons when I play."
On Sunday, James earned his first career NFL start against the Jets with Kareem Jackson inactive. He's seen action in every game since the Texans signed him to the active roster on Oct. 19. It's been a long road for James, who spent most of the 2014 season on Houston's practice squad, but quickly became a fan favorite after being featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks."
"I was talking to my mom and my stepdad the other day," James said. "I like to reflect. For me, I look at things on a yearly basis and to see where I was a year ago to where I am now, man it's a blessing."