Fame Has Not Changed Peterson's Small Town Values

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul.

Watching Adrian Peterson's eyes as hundreds in his home town honored him as a hero, it was easy to see the shyness, the humbleness, even the question: Why all of this for me?

"This day is special to me," Adrian said. "Growing up in Palestine, going through a lot at a young age and thinking back to the stage that I'm at now. It's definitely an honor."

Saturday was Adrian Peterson Day in Palestine, a day to honor the Minnesota Vikings rookie.

But long before he was the country's number one high school recruit, Adrian dealt with heartache at a young age. A drunk driver took the life of his older brother and as a teen his father was sent to prison. Adrian said it all shaped him into the man he is now.

"It's a blessing," he said. "It's been a long road. I had to clear a lot of obstacles along the way. But with all the support of my fans back home, my family, you know it makes it worth. Just knowing that they stood behind me, supporting me."

In a society that often measures heroism on the football field, Adrian wants to be thought of as much more than an athlete.

"I just want to be an inspiration to all the young kids that are in high school or middle school," Adrian told the crowd of Palestine fans. "Just because you are from small town Palestine, the sky is the limit."

When asked how he has remained so humble, Adrian's answer was simple.

"Just staying grounded and always remembering where I came from and when I didn't have anything. When I was that same kid walking up to Ricky Williams asking for his autograph. But, now I'm in position to do the same thing."

Each year East Texas delivers to the country another crop of talented athletes. Adrian has stood in their shoes and had this advice to offer.

"I say first of all, put God first. Also hard work and being dedicated. I'm not just talking about doing what's required. It's doing more. It's setting your standards higher. If that's going after practice and getting a couple of extra reps in the weight room or getting extra gasers in the field. Just staying focus, just hard work, just being dedicated."