Tre'Davious White

LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White during pregame warmups in Tiger Stadium.

Travis Spradling

ORLANDO, Fla. — “Dear LSU.”

That’s how Tre’Davious White began a letter to LSU fans posted on the school’s website earlier this month. A letter he felt compelled to write as his four years in Baton Rouge draw to a close.

You have no idea what being able to call you home for the past four years has done for my life. It’s been a true blessing ...

There are some tough streets in the neighborhoods near the gleaming, recently rebuilt Camping World Stadium, site of Saturday’s Citrus Bowl.

The LSU cornerback grew up in a neighborhood like that in north Shreveport, the kind of place he was motivated to escape from.

Getting a football scholarship from LSU was my way out of a poverty stricken neighborhood that was full of violence.

After school, White would head to the David Raines Community Center near Shreveport’s sprawling Kansas City Southern railroad yard.

“That was a place all kids my age went after school, to just to stay out of trouble,” White said here Thursday at a pre-bowl news conference. “I feel like that place pretty much saved me from a situation that a lot of guys back home are in. I feel like that was the place that pretty much molded me into the man I am today. It kept me out of the streets. It got me into sports and involved in things like this.”

To the kids at David Rains now, the young man they call “Baby Shaq” is a legend.

“We watched him grow up,” said Luther Adams, a recreation specialist at David Raines for 17 years. Adams helped coach White. Taught him how to play ping pong.

“We talk about getting him back here to speak” to the kids, Adams said. “He’s one of our success stories.”

LSU is where I made friends for a lifetime. I will be leaving LSU with a college degree, becoming one of the first people in my entire family to graduate from college. My hope is that I can set a great example for my younger brothers and sister to follow and hopefully inspire others who come from a similar background as me to get an education and make a difference in the world.

When Dave Aranda arrived at LSU in January as its new defensive coordinator, he saw the shutdown corner ability White possessed jump off the video screen.

What he learned about White afterward transcended talent.

“Very early on, you could see he was the leader of the defense,” Aranda said. “I think the guy that everyone listens to on defense is Tre'Davious. When he decides to speak, he has the full attention of the team.

“You know he's a good person. He's a great player. I think everyone respects him.”

Last year at this time, I made a decision to stay in school for another year in hopes of winning a championship and getting my degree. Even though we came up short in winning a championship, getting a degree from LSU and growing as a person, both on and off the field, made the decision well worth it.

White set four goals when he decided to return for his senior campaign: win the CFP championship, be an All-American, be an All-Southeastern Conference selection and be a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation’s best defensive back.

“I was able to do three out of the four,” White said. And that’s not bad.

He wants to tick off one more achievement before he departs LSU: He wants to beat Louisville. There’s plenty of debate about the merits of bowls like the Citrus in this post-CFP world, but for White there’s no argument.

“I want to go off the field a winner,” he said. “I want to lay a foundation for the next team.”

The feeling is mutual.

“We want to give him a win this last game,” Aranda said.

I will always bleed Purple and Gold and I will forever be a LSU Tiger!

Whatever the final score Saturday, White will have left his mark at LSU, with his family, in his community. As he prepares to head off to the NFL, he can know his young life has been a force for good.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​