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Justin Hardy uses his late mother as inspiration to anchor Jets special teams

Justin Hardy expected the same rewards that other high performing students would receive. 

Cool new sneakers? 

Instead, Estella Perryman looked at her grades and told her son, "Go clean up." With these three words of hers, Perryman said no matter how successful Hardy was at school, in business as his owner, or in his NFL career that led to the creation of his team, the Jets Specials. , set the standard to always strive for the better. 

"In that moment of my life, I didn't understand it," the 28-year-old cornerback told the Post after Friday's practice. "Once I got used to it, I feel like it has affected the way I run my life." 

Perryman, who is 55, said about a week before Christmas 2013. Died of lung disease. At the time, Hardy was a lowly recruited sophomore, far off the NFL's radar and dependent on a "strong support system." of close friends and family for survival.” 

Justin Hardee is one of the best special teams players in the NFL.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

, I lost the most important person in my life.My mom died five minutes ago," recalled former Illinois assistant coach Bill Cubitt. "I called him every hour that day to make sure he was okay. He's one of the most special kids I've mentored. Don't put yourself first." 

But Hardy positioned himself to succeed. Many times. 

Hardy graduated from the University of Illinois where he received three degrees (Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Master of Sports Management, and Master of Education) and is a member of the Saints. After graduating from the practice team, he is an undrafted rookie. In his next five seasons, the Cleveland native switched his official position from receiver to cornerback and established his reputation as one of the best non-kicking or ball-carrying specials in the NFL. did. 

"All the big decisions, how to push yourself into everything, all to his mother," Hardy said. "She taught me how to work hard. Of course I miss her, but I know she's with me every day. To see where I am." 

Here's one reason: Hardee cut her salary during the NFL offseason. Unable to secure sponsorship deals with any of the major sports apparel brands to sustain, he took matters into his own hands. 

Justin Hardee, left, participates in drills at Jets training camp. 

Justin Hardee, left, participates in drills at Jets training camp.Justin Hardee, left, participates in drills at Jets training camp.38}
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

After seeking advice from a financial advisor, then-Saints teammate and small business owner Malcolm Jenkins, former Jets star and Saints assistant coach Aaron Glenn Hardy bought Papa John's franchise in New Orleans to benefit the charity — and went on to buy another one in Mississippi. 

"I'm over a third sitting here," Hardy remembered thinking. “While in the NFL, you have to make the most of every opportunity. , so that one day my son or grandson can have it.” 

The Jets signed Hardy to a three-year, $5.2 million deal, and last season his teammates named him captain. was appointed to Kickoff returns, punt returns, kickoff coverage, and number of punts by opponents ranked in the top 5 in the league, and both offense and defense improved in the offseason. 

"We are in control of our destiny," said Hardy. "I think we can surprise a lot of people if we work together." 

Head coach Robert Saleh told the Jets, "All Gas, No Brake." ' came the slogan. He knows where to look if he needs a sign boy. 

"Justin is the epitome of 'All Gus' in the way he strains and the words he says," Saleh said. "Any young guy coming into this league and trying to find his way, look no further than him. He's one of those guys you root for because he does it the right way." 

by playing for the name on the front of the jersey, the name on the back, and the name on his heart. For years, Hardy wore a necklace with a picture of his mother. 

"I have something to do," said Hardy. "I represent someone every Sunday, but when I represent someone, I play differently. I give everything I have for her."