More people should know Giovani Bernard's story.
Paul Daugherty even suggested they make a Lifetime movie out of it, which Bernard got a kick out of on Tuesday night's Beyond the Stripes.
"True Life: Gio," Bernard joked. "I'll get a nice little check for it."
And he smiled and nodded almost the whole time Doc rattled off the story. Even the SparkNotes version is compelling:
Gio's dad came to this country as a Haitian refugee in 1980 on a boat with 15 others, with just the clothes on his back. He became a janitor at IBM where he met Gio's mom, Josette. She came to America in the same way, just on another boat. Then, they worked together at a dry cleaner. They ended up being able to buy the dry cleaner.
Yvanson Bernard, Gio's brother, was born in 1985, and they had Gio in 1991.
Josette was diagnosed with thyroid cancer seven years after Gio was born, and passed.
"She died at home in your dad's arms," Doc said.
"Yep," nodded Gio.
"Your dad didn't do really well with that, as most of us would not. You struggled. Yvanson got a college scholarship at Georgia State, you and your dad lived in places that weren't so great. Your dad basically raised you solo after that?"
"Your dinner was pretty much whatever you could buy for 99 cents."
"Usually at McDonald's," Gio recalled, laughing. "Yep, there you go."
As if he knew he was handing the audience a little comic relief.
But there was relief at this point in the story as well: Cris Carter befriended Gio because Carter's son, Duron, played on the same little league team as Gio. Carter helped Bernard get into St. Thomas Aquinas High School, which helped him get a scholarship to North Carolina.
"The rest is history," Doc said.
When asked if he embodied the American Dream, nobody in the audience was terribly surprised when Gio said, "I think my dad does."
Minutes before this exchange, as we were talking about Seattle and a 4-0 Bengals team and other things that just seem so small in comparison, Gio's dad was working at the dry cleaner.
Grading the Hot Seat: A
"My brother got a weird name — well, I'll just, I'm going off topic here — but my dad's name is Yvens (pronounced Evans), so that's Y-E-V-N-S, and my brother's name is Yvenson, so Yven's son. And then I got the Italian name."
All right, I explained too much up top. You gotta watch the video to find out why Giovani Bernard's name is Giovani. He's not Italian, if that wasn't clear.
This Hot Seat segment gets an easy A from me. It packed in everything the folks at Lifetime need to know to toss together a script, and we still laughed.
Gio's a funny dude. Frankly, having bigger names on the show can be a mixed bag. You know exactly why — big contract guys know they can't speak as freely. There's player-speak and coach-speak, and you know what that sounds like.
But it's Gio's demeanor that makes him hilarious. And his "I-just-made-a-funny" grin, so I'm calling it.
"As a North Carolina guy, what do you think of people from Duke, like Vinny Rey?" Doc asked.
"They smell weird."
Ben Goldschmidt | cincinnati.com | October 7, 2015