A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
My name is Labrawn Saffold, but some people know me as the “Party Crasher.” For the last few years, I’ve mastered the art of sneaking into high-profile parties. Believe it or not, I’ve excelled in this hobby without even being able to walk. Nearly seven years ago, I was a victim of a hit-and-run car accident that left me paralyzed and killed my 11-year-old cousin. At the time, I was 16 years old and on my way to the University of Florida to play football; however, my hopes of playing in the National Football League shattered in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, I was determined to experience the life of a celebrity. So for the last few years I have gone to whatever city is hosting the Super Bowl and crashed the most upscale parties–being in a wheelchair has not slowed me down one bit. This year the Super Bowl was in Miami. I drove down there from Tampa a few days before the game. The first day I was there, I heard on the radio that the NFL commissioner along with several former players would be presenting a $ 1,000,000 check to a local park in South Florida. My sister and I drove to the event as though we were invited. The entire facility was surrounded by top security, but that wasn’t going to stop me. I located a side door entrance, and my sister raced me through the door as someone was coming out. Within an hour, I was shaking hands with Archie Manning, Steve Young, and the NFL Commissioner while taking professional photos with the $ 1,000,000 check. The next morning, I realized that one of my pictures was published in the local paper. I noticed a person standing behind me in the photo, looking like, “Who is this nice guy in the wheelchair?” As night approached, someone mentioned to me that Hall of Fame Coach Mike Ditka was throwing a party. My sister and I showered, got dressed, and headed out on a mission to crash yet another event. When we arrived at the fancy hotel, I quickly started to smile and befriend anyone who seemed important. A nice guy directed us to the party. Once we reached the party’s entrance many people were leaving and we were informed the Jamie Foxx had just finished a live performance. It wasn’t difficult to enter the party as most people were leaving. Within seconds of our entrance, I spotted Hall of Fame Coach Mike Ditka, who was partying like a rock star. I asked him for a picture, and he gladly agreed, taking the time to stop dancing and smile for the camera. I must say, I didn’t know Coach Ditka could still dance like that. After driving four and a half hours, and attending two major events, I was exhausted. We spent Saturday sleeping in, preparing for a night of fun. Our goal for Saturday was to somehow get into The Players Party and then head to The ESPN Party. By Saturday evening, my sister and I were well rested and ready to enjoy the night. I drove to The Players Party as though I was an injured player looking to have fun with my colleagues. Luckily, the guards also assumed I was an injured player because they didn’t ask us any questions as they gave us wrist bands and let my sister and me in the door. I posed with many All-Star players and felt like a true celebrity. Our next mission was going to be a challenge. Every year, ESPN hosts the biggest and most talked about party in the city. For the last two years, I had been turned away, but I was hoping this year would be different. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. I tried every trick in my book, but the party was strictly by invitation only. Even though I didn’t get into the party, I met a lot of players near the entrance. My sister was really sad, but being the loyal brother that I am, I promised her I would get us into the Saint’s after-party if they won the Super Bowl so she could meet her so-called “future husband” Reggie Bush. On Super Bowl Sunday, we decided to enjoy the nice beaches of Fort Lauderdale and watch the game somewhere near a beach. We ended up at Bubba Gump Shrimp right near the water. The game was really close, and I was actually pulling for the Colts knowing it would be hard if not impossible to keep my promise to my sister. To the contrary, the city of New Orleans got a break as the Saints pulled off a spectacular victory against the Colts. Immediately after the game ended, my sister and I jumped in my car and headed back to Miami. I knew that if I was going to crash the party I would have to act quickly before the players arrived at the hotel and before traffic was out of control. At this point, my sister was so excited, assuming I had a plan of action, but I had no idea what I was going to do. We arrived at the InterContinental Hotel with perfect timing. We parked across the street just as the hotel guest buses were pulling up. Once we made it across the street, it seemed as though we had just arrived from the stadium with everyone else. My sister’s excitement grew as I thought to myself, “This is easier than I expected.” As we got closer to the hotel entrance, I realized the guards were checking for everyone’s wristbands. My sister started to panic but I told her to calm down and not to worry. I had a look of confidence, but I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do. My thoughts were racing; we were next in line. What was I going to do? (Labrawn, think quickly, think quickly.) Then I heard it: “Sir, let me see your wristband!” My sister looked at me anxiously. Without hesitation, I grabbed my stomach and said, “Where is the bathroom?” The officer looked at my wheelchair with concern and said, “Hurry, follow me.” I took my sister by the hand as the officer took us inside the hotel and directed us to the bathrooms without even realizing we had never showed him our wristbands. I looked around the hotel and realized we had done the impossible. Later that night the Saints players arrived and we partied until well after four in the morning. Another year and another mission accomplished…. Next year I have my eyes set for Arlington, Texas, as I plan to sneak into Cowboys Stadium!
Saints player Jeremy Shockey,
and Labrawn’s sister.
Hall of Fame coach Mike Ditka and Labrawn Saffold.
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Steve Young, former Pro Football player and Super Bowl winner Tyrone Keys, and Labrawn Saffold.