PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Giants WR Victor Cruz’s magical season now moves on to Indianapolis, but long before the wideout’s stardom, he was a hometown hero in Paterson, New Jersey.

Cruz’s teachers from the elementary school he attended are beaming with pride.  Banners and Giants memorabilia can be seen all over P.S. 21. Cruz’s teachers say he was driven, tenacious and an excellent student.

“His smile just lit up the whole building. Victor was always a happy-go-lucky kid,” teacher Rhonda Tombiling-Bowden told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

To appreciate Cruz’s remarkable success, one must understand where he came from. He grew up on a street and in a city plagued by crime.

Cruz has also become an inspiration to all of the students who struggled to beat the odds in Paterson.  Chris Diaz is an 8th grader at P.S. 21, where Cruz was a student for three years. Watching the Giants’ star makes him feel he’s got a chance.

“I really look up to Victor Cruz,”  Diaz said. “We have a lot of things common and like he grew up just like me in Paterson.”

Teachers at his old school attribute Cruz’s success to his parents, who they say inspired him to be the best.

“It brings tears to my eyes to see him on TV and see the great success that he has had,” Janet Ludwig, Cruz’ 6th grade teacher, said.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, who at the airport waiting to come from San Francisco on Monday, was still on cloud nine over the Giants win.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

Wimberly coached wide receiver Cruz at Paterson Catholic and says the meteoric rise of the undrafted free agent is a lesson in dedication and perseverance.

“He’s definitely humble. I mean, his mom has done an unbelievable job of raising him and being very humble… maintaining his faith base… and staying mentally strong. I mean, he’s definitely really something that I’m just proud to see how he’s handled himself,” Wimberly told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams on Monday.

He says Cruz is very focused.

“He just has a contagious personality, I think. I think he’s the kind of person, when he walks in a room, he lights the room, doesn’t have to say much. Type of person that has that East Coast swagger to him that kind of makes everybody else around him confident also. Because he is unbelievably confident,” said Wimberly.

Regarding the fancy footwork in the end zone, Wimberly says Cruz’s Silk City salsa moves come from his grandma.

Do you have something to say about the story? Sound off in the comments section below!

Comments (17)
  1. Ariyana Shanel DimpleeFace says:

    Yea; I met him there & i go to that school . So is really fun when he comes around & stop by ever once & a while .

  2. Go_PATS! says:

    The Giants and their fans are all losers.

    1. Ariyana Shanel DimpleeFace says:

      You are a loser for not liking the Giants ; & whoever you represent or like in football ; Giants would eat at all of them !!!!!!

    2. Bullett says:

      Suck it up Superbowl 2007 is history.

  3. "HOWARD" Carton says:

    1. The way he speaks to women ( hey baby, whts ur name, etc etc).
    2. He played the triangle in the band in HS.
    3. He pokes fun at his boss.
    4. climbing the rope in gym class

    Please Comment if you agree!!!! I don’t really care…. but he should acknowledge Howard once in a while…… least Boomer does.

    1. Peter says:

      he does acknowledge.
      When fafa fohi was promoting his book, he came into the show and B&C mentioned they were fans and Carton had more to say than booms. He even said something to the effect that the best thing he learned from stern is that sometimes its not what you say its that you say it with conviction to keep the people listening. You need to have a strong opinion and that you need to voice it clearly on the mic and people will listen.

    2. GIL.T says:

      No Doubt,..He’s Ripping off Howard..
      Notice his Belching? which is disgusting!
      For some reason when Howard does it. it’s
      Howard is the KING of all MEDIA!

  4. Bullett says:

    Teachers at his old school attribute Cruz’s success to his parents, who they say inspired him to be the best.The best learning tool for all children; “Parents” who care and show and interest to their child’s learning both in and out of school.

    1. billy d says:

      That’s what I’m talking about, thank you sir!

  5. billy d says:

    Apparently I’m missing something b/c the only picture I see is Victor on the field and Victor’s childhood school photo. My real point , if after reading this article the only comment(s) you have are in regard to the picture then you really must have some issues. All of you are a microcosm of what is wrong w/ our society!

  6. rich says:

    if u cant see that is cruz then your blind you meathead

  7. Kevin S says:

    For all of you speculators, that is Victor Cruz….his father was African American and his mother is Latina!

  8. lafter54 says:

    That is for sure a picture of Victor. Why would you say it wasn’t? He is of Hispanic decent, not African American

  9. Jeff S says:

    That is a pic Victor Cruz

  10. Devenio says:

    Get it right! That is not Victor Cruz! Come, I know all we black guys look alike to you but by gosh don’t you know your numbers?

  11. jeff mostwill says:

    love story and the gmen, but the pci is of JPP #90 not cruz #80

    1. jeff m says:

      meant pic not ‘pci’

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