The next step? Emmitt went in search of Victoria's parents' names. In an old ledger, Marjorie found a man named Prince Puryear who was described with the letter "m," which meant mulatto. "Specifically, black/white race," she says.

They also discovered that Prince's mom was a woman named Mariah. "Now, I know that Prince was mixed race and born into slavery," Emmitt says. "If Mariah was his mother, could she be the link between the black and the white side of my family?"

To explore this theory, Emmitt traveled to Mecklenburg, Virginia, to learn more about a notorious slave trader who owned Mariah at some point in history. The man's name was Alexander Puryear.

Virginia historian John Caknipe said Samuel Puryear, Alexander's father, might be the link to Mariah. To find out for sure, John selected a book of old deeds from a shelf. The number on the book was 22—the same number Emmitt wore on the football field for 15 years.

"I've been wearing jersey number 22 since college," he says. "Maybe it is my destiny, and I've always believed I was a child of destiny, but, whew, this is … it's making me a little bit nervous."


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