Gabe Carimi is the newest addition to the Chicago Bears' offensive line. A standout at the University of Wisconsin, Carimi was so dominant at his position that the Bears drafted him in the first round and have already pegged him as a day one starter and future Pro Bowler. But, Carimi is much, much more than that: he was a high school football talent who prided himself on his multi-sport versatility, varsity letters, and commitment to academics. He is a future star whose sense of self extends beyond the gridiron; his commitment to football is unquestioned but the value he places on his family and heritage mark the true nature of his character.
Carimi was born in June of 1988 to an upper middle class family in Lake Forest, Illinois. He was a multi-sport athlete early on and quickly grew into a body tailored to maximize his athletic talents. At Monona Grove High School in Wisconsin, he took up karate, discus, and track. Carimi excelled at all three, becoming a karate black belt, a state-ranked discus thrower, and the captain of the track team. But football was always his best sport and, from the earliest point, he excelled at it so that, by the end of his senior year, he had lettered for four years and was a star at both offensive and defensive tackle before earning a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin.
However, unlike many young star athletes, Carmini was never groomed to be a pro at the expense of all else. He did not abandon his academics in the pursuit of his athletic dreams. His family placed a high value on academics and heritage, which is why Carimi emphasizes his commitment to Judaism. While at Wisconsin, he stated that, "religion is a part of me, and I don't want to just say I'm Jewish. I actually do make sacrifices that I know are hard choices," and backed up the assertion by fasting for the High Holiday of Yom Kippur up until one hour before the 2007 Big Ten Opener against Iowa. Regardless of ones' own heritage or religious convictions, Carimi's commitment to his own despite outside pressures is admirable.
Due to his 6' 7" of height, athleticism, and high football IQ, Carimi became a star at Wisconsin. His run-blocking was crucial to Wisconsin's ground-heavy attack featuring running back John Clay, which earned enough hard yards to get him the nickname, "The Jewish Hammer." His deft pass blocking kept quarterback Scott Tolzien upright long enough to bring the Badgers to within a few passes of the 2010 Rose Bowl Championship. Ultimately, his body of work, combined with reports on his high character, earned him the Bear's first round draft selection this past March.
Looking forward, Carimi seems to have a bright future ahead of him in Chicago. No one can predict what will happen but the Bears are reportedly impressed with his character and reserving a spot on the line for him to start at from day one. He has also started winning over fans' hearts in Chicago, which began when he warmly adopted radio personality Dan Bernstein's nickname for him: "the Bear Jew." Perhaps the nickname is perfect because it sums up what has made up Gabe Carimi up to this point: the efficiently nasty play on the field that have earned him comparisons to Jon Runyan, his new NFL team, and his commitment to his family and heritage. No one knows what will come next but, from the looks of it, Carimi is poised for stardom and Chicago is lucky to have him.
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