How Rams DT Aaron Donald became the NFL's most unstoppable force


LOS ANGELES -- Aaron Donald was uncommonly sentimental on the afternoon of Dec. 23. He had just broken the record for sacks by a defensive tackle, accumulating 19.5 with still another game remaining, and so he found himself on the verge of tears as he rode the Los Angeles Rams' bus out of State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, that Sunday. There, Donald crafted long, heartfelt text messages for all of the people who helped mold him into what might now be the greatest, fiercest player in the NFL.
The first one went to his father, Archie Donald, and the first sentence was poignant.
“You created a monster.”
That monster was built in the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood of Pittsburgh, a gritty suburb in the northeast section of the city. It was built in the basement of that unmistakable two-story brick house with the red-and-white awning, in the homemade gymnasium that Aaron began to work out in before sunrise as a high school freshman. It was built, in many ways, by Archie, a former nose tackle and longtime workout junkie who introduced Aaron to strength training as a way to inject structure into his son’s life, igniting the obsession that precipitated greatness.
“A lot of my success, and a lot of who I am now, is because of my dad, and the way he raised me and taught me how to have a work ethic,” Donald told ESPN. “I always tell my dad he was training me to be a pro before he even knew it.”