Meet Colin Celestine.
He’s a 14-year-old boy originally from Raceland. And, no, he’s not wearing a head band. That thin line stretching from ear to ear, just into his hairline, is a scar — a reminder of surgery he underwent at age 2.
Doctors removed a tumor pressing on his brain.
His time as a football player — he played receiver in a non-tackle league — is over. He’ll never play the tackle version of a sport he loves, never get to smash helmets and crunch shoulder pads, never get to leap high for a touchdown catch or race 80 yards for a score.
He’ll never get to be anything like the guy who, just minutes ago, scribbled on the back of Colin’s green shirt.
“I’m Leonard Fournette,” the LSU’s star running back said.
Colin knew exactly who this guy was. Another kid did not. When that kid asked if Fournette was LSU safety Jamal Adams, every one snickered, including Fournette, the Heisman Trophy favorite on the nation's sixth-ranked college football team.
Fournette pressed a marker lightly into Colin’s left shoulder blade to make his mark in black ink.
“L. Fournette,” is now scribbled there.
“#7,” is written below.
The shirt — and signature — on his back is now, almost, all he has.
Colin and his family “lost everything” in the historic flood, he said, that submerged parts of Baton Rouge and the surrounding area. When the waters rose, he walked out of his mother’s home, through knee-deep water, to another family member’s house.
They then walked to a bus that brought the family to a shelter in Central.
Finally, the bus brought the Celestine family here — Celtic Studios, a stretch of a warehouse-like movie studios off Airline Highway that’s been turned into a shelter, housing as many as 4,000 people when it opened Sunday.
“Welcome to Celticville,” said Patrick Mulhearn, executive director of Celtic Studios and the man partly responsible for that signature on little Colin’s back.
Instincts kicked in for Russell Gage, LSU’s junior receiver.
Colin learned of Fournette’s arrival soon after the running back and about 50 other LSU football players unloaded from a charter bus Thursday afternoon with coach Les Miles.
Word spread quickly. Leonard Fournette is here, they said.
“They wanted it to be a pleasant surprise,” Mulhearn smiled.
Fournette, Miles and others toured three movie stages-turned-shelters, massive structures stretching 50-plus feet high and covering up to 23,000 square-feet.
They stopped by Stage 7, the place actor Tom Cruise sat in a phony cruise ship bound for space in the post-apocalyptic science movie “Oblivion.”
It’s now a cafeteria.
They swung through State 5, the site of the engine room in the 2012 action film “Battleship.”
It’s now a quasi-playground for children.
They ventured into Stage 6, the site where crews filmed Miles, dressed as a police officer, in the independent film “Camera Obscura.”
It’s now living quarters for, as of Thursday morning’s count, 720 flood evacuees.
“I didn’t expect what I saw. I’m saddened,” said Adams, like other players, dressed in his purple jersey. “They’re still going through adversity and still smiling.”
“It was great,” quarterback Brandon Harris said, “to put a smile on their faces.”
They succeeded, signing footballs, t-shirts, posters, phones even. Evacuees weren’t the only recipients. Red Cross volunteers and military members stood in lines for autographs and photos.
The first person Miles saw upon walking off the team bus: the woman pulled from a sinking Miata on Saturday, a video that's gone viral, first published by WAFB, channel 9.
"I recognized here," Miles said.
"Very fortunate to be in the position that you're in," the coach said he told her. "I had the gift of travel. I traveled from my house to my job and back without issue every day. A lot of people did not have that."
Miles was at least the second coach to visit here. Basketball coach Johnny Jones spent time here Wednesday. In fact, at least a few members of each sports team at LSU contributed to flood relief somewhere. The baseball team cleaned homes in Denham Springs, including a house belonging to former pitcher Ben McDonald. The swimming and diving team and volleyball team spent hours doing the same in outlying areas.
It was the football team’s turn Thursday.
“We’re impressed they took the time to do this,” said Libby Myers, a Red Cross volunteer from Jacksonville, Florida. Her and husband Gregory flew in a few days ago to help.
They watched as LSU players and Miles mingled with hundreds of evacuees and their children.
“The kids,” she said, “were so happy. It was a morale booster.”
Adams lost a race with one child and paid him $10. That resulted in a line of children forming to “race” the Tigers’ starting safety.
Adults were beaming, too. Adams began signing the back of a woman’s t-shirt. The lady’s eyes rolled back into her head, as if she were about to faint with excitement.
“I’m going to die,” she said.
Fournette, looking on, replied, “Don’t do that.”
Fournette was the real star here, of course. Not even Miles could top his player’s stardom.
“The question I was asked most was, ‘Where is Fournette?’” Miles said with a smile. “I was good with that. I said, ‘Somewhere in here.’”
People shouted at the running back — “You’re the truth!” one said — and asked about the thick, black walking boot he limped around on. Fournette sprained his left ankle during a scrimmage on Tuesday. Miles classified it as a “slight” sprain.
Fournette, speaking to local reporters for the first time since camp began Aug. 4, said he'll be healthy enough to play in the season opener against Wisconsin on Sept. 3 at Lambeau Field.
“I’m good,” he said, “ready for the season to start.”
The flooding in Baton Rouge killed at least a dozen people and flooded thousands of homes. The event reminds Fournette of Hurricane Katrina. The Fournettes were displaced after the storm roared ashore in 2005 — a year after doctors operated on Colin.
Colin doesn’t know when he’ll be able to start school at Capitol Middle School. Heck, he doesn’t know where he and his family will be living in a week or a month.
But he has that shirt on his back — and, maybe, that’s all.
“I lost everything I had,” he said. “My people … they lost everything they had.”