Fotini Nixon almost cried when she came home from a deployment to Iraq and saw her son, Xavier Nixon, for the first time in months.
“He grew like six inches, and he looked so skinny,” she says. “When I left, he was a chunky monkey.”
“My mom exaggerates,” says Nixon, who is 6-7 and 270 pounds.
Nixon, 18, an offensive and defensive tackle at Jack Britt High (Fayetteville, N.C.), is considered the top senior offensive lineman in the country by recruiting expert Tom Lemming and the No. 3 offensive tackle by Rivals.com, but he’s done much of his growing up while his parents have been in combat zones.
His father, Kenneth Nixon, is a command sergeant major stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, through April. Though her unit is deployed in Iraq, his mother is home for now, a master sergeant at nearby Fort Bragg. But even when both parents have been deployed at the same time and he’s had to stay with his aunt or grandmother, his parents have stayed close in other ways.