GAINESVILLE, Ga. – It doesn't take long to find pride in Gainesville, for the pride of Gainesville.

They painted the high school rock after him.

They named a street after him.

But you can also find pride in the hometown hero if you search a little deeper, in a place you won't find if you're not looking.

"(He) Stayed right next door to him," Gainesville resident James Washington told 11Alive. "He'll be all right in life, whatever he do, and wherever he go."

The he is Deshaun Watson, and the Clemson quarterback is heading, this weekend, to the NFL.

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Watson and his family are in Philadelphia ahead of the draft. But this week, the Georgia native wrote on Instagram about coming a long way from “815,” here in Gainesville.

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"He grew up in Harrison Square – 815," said Gainesville resident Robert Brown. "The kids love him, the community love him…He put Gainesville on the map.”

Those who live near the public housing complex still smile about its most famous resident.

"Every day I'd see him and his sister throwing the football," Washington recalled. "To see where he's at after all these years, that's a blessing to me."

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But take a short drive a few miles from 815, where you’ll find the end of a Gainesville road and the beginning of a Gainesville mother's path.

"I have come to appreciate construction work…a lot more," Meoshea Columbus exclaimed.

This summer, Columbus moved her kids into a home built by Habitat for Humanity, just like Deshaun Watson's mother did years ago.

"Knowing as a mother that we've actually done something to change our child's life for the better, and become something more, is a great feeling,” she told 11Alive’s Matt Pearl. “It's a great feeling."

Habitat's providing the home, and Columbus is helping to build it while raising her kids and holding down a job.

And Deshaun Watson? He's never met Columbus, but she said he has set an example for her son, Julius.

"When he found out we were getting a Habitat home, and he knew Deshaun Watson grew up in one, he wanted to play football ever since,” she told 11Alive. “So, last year we started in football, all because of Deshaun Watson."

This fall, Watson will make big plays and big money and will do so in full view. But he will also excite and inspire in places less easy to find, here in Gainesville.

Round 1 of the NFL Draft starts Thursday night at 8 in Philadelphia.

11Alive will be bringing you live coverage of the NFL draft. Follow along on to get updates on who joins the Falcons' brotherhood.

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