The Rashad Jennings story
FOREST, Va. (WSET) -- From humble beginnings in Forest, to a finalist on Dancing With the Stars, Rashad Jennings has become a household name.
Just over two months ago, the nation found out that NFL running back and hometown hero, Rashad Jennings, would join the cast of season 24's Dancing with the Stars.
He's made it all the way to the finale, which he'll compete on starting Monday night.
"I was born in Forest, Virginia where everybody's parents know everybody's kids," Jennings said in a video montage last week.
And almost everyone in his hometown followed the rise of Rashad Jennings' football career.
From Jefferson Forest High School, to LCA where his brothers helped coach the team to pay for his tuition.
"I got a fresh start and I never looked back," Jennings said.
"He was determined," added his brother, Albert. "Almost like Forest Gump and he started winning."
Rashad ran right on to the University of Pittsburg in 2005, one of the few freshman to ever become a starting running back.
Then, after his father's stroke, he returned to Liberty University in 2006.
When many doubted a future in the NFL, his family pushed him forward.
"Coming home, people were telling him your'e not going to make it, you're not comparable to your brothers. All that stuff bothered me," said Jennings' brother, Albert. "But at home we would tell him, 'no, you're somebody.'"
The NFL agreed.
In 2009 he was drafted in the 8th round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Oakland Raiders signed him 2013, then he went on to the New York Giants in 2014.
All the while, never forgetting home.
"We really wanted to come back and give back to Lynchburg," Jennings' said in a 2014 interview. "This was our stomping grounds, this was humble beginnings."
When the Giants released Rashad in February, a new opportunity came along; Season 24 of Dancing With the Stars.
"This is live, this is definitely going to be something different for me," he said just days before the show's premiere.
Paired with pro Emma Slater, his debut performance of the Cha Cha put him in second place and caught the attention of viewers at home and in Hollywood.
"It's time to reveal my pick for who wins, drumroll please, Geiermo open wide and show us the winner, the champion of Dancing With the Stars is Rashad Jennings," announced Jimmy Kimmel on his show after the premiere episode.
Rashad has waltzed, sambaed, and bared a little bit of his soul in a dance dedicated to his father, earning him a near perfect score.
"That man, my family, my brothers made so many sacrifices in my life to put me in this position and I never can repay them," Jennings said.
Week after week, Jennings edged out the competition leading up to the finals.
"And I'm so excited about freestyle," Jennings said about one of his final dances. "I'm going to throw every piece of energy I have in me into it."
Now America decides if this football star deserves a new title and mirror ball trophy.
ABC 13 along with Liberty University is hosting a party to cheer on Rashad Jennings during Tuesday night's finale.
The party is at the Lahaye Student Center at Liberty University on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.