Saints' Grant confident everything will work out

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. -- A scar sits on the back of Charles Grant's neck, reminding the New Orleans Saints defensive end that catastrophe can hit at anytime -- regardless of star status.

"Whoever put it on me, I have no hate in my heart because I believe in the man upstairs who is a higher power than just Charles," said Grant while conducting a youth football clinic near Atlanta on Friday.

"Anything can happen at anytime," Grant said.

Grant said he has learned from the night in early February that ended with disaster. He was stabbed in the neck and charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman following an altercation at a nightclub in southwest Georgia.

Friday was the first time Grant has spoken since he was charged by a grand jury and Laquient Macklin was charged with felony murder and killing a fetus in the shooting death of 23-year-old Korynda Reed.

Grant's Athens-based lawyer, Ed Tolley, said Grant didn't shoot a gun and didn't have a gun at the Feb. 3 incident at Pokey's club in Blakely, about 20 miles north of Grant's hometown of Colquitt.

Grant posted a $10,000 bond after his indictment in May. Tolley said Grant entered a plea of not guilty and waived his right to arraignment. A preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.

Grant insists the injury and involuntary manslaughter charge won't affect his status with the Saints. Last year, he signed a seven-year contract extension worth $63 million with incentives.

Grant said he is confident about his case, saying "it's in the hands of the Lord." He said he is working on an autobiography, titled "The Gravel Road," which he hopes to finish by next year.

"This book will let kids see that it's not just football we live and get overnight," Grant said. "This is about putting the words to the people so they can understand who Charles Grant really is."

On Friday, Grant and 12 other NFL players helped more than 250 boys in football drills. The clinic is part of Grant's S.A.C.K Success Foundation, an outreach program to provide resources for at-risk, inner city kids.

The NFL players also spoke about making good decisions in difficult situations.

"It's a lot of bad things going on in this world," said Detroit Lions lineman George Foster, who played with Grant at the University of Georgia. "We just wanted to let them know about how to love one another. Then we'll be better off."

In 2007, Grant collected 2 1/2 sacks while starting 14 games for New Orleans. He has 38 1/2 sacks in his six-year career.

Grant didn't comment about the details of his legal case. He said the scar on his neck symbolizes another phase of his life where he has experienced strife.

Grant said he has watched his brother die in his arms, never met his father and walks around with a third-degree burn on his left inner leg from a fireplace incident when he was 4 years old.

"I've been through a lot in my life," he said. "I'm still learning about life. And every day, I'm learning something new. I think I'm in the position to tell a kid about what I've been through."

Marshawn Evans, who manages Grant's foundation, said most people regard him as humble.

"He grew up with modest means," Evans said. "It's everything for him to come out and help these kids today, because he didn't have these same privileges when he grew up."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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