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Anthony Castonzo could win multiple Super Bowls with the Indianapolis Colts, and the utter euphoria probably won't match what he experienced on what was truly a special night for him and his family Thursday.
Football teams are families, but nothing beats experiencing the best times of your life with family blood. That's what the Lake Zurich graduate got to share at his family's Hawthorn Woods restaurant, Oregano's, which hosted a private NFL Draft party for him that was packed with family, friends and love for "little" Anthony, who's an even better kid than he is a football player, and he happens to be the first player from Lake County ever selected in the first round of the draft. (Stevenson graduate Matt O'Dwyer went to the Jets in the second round in 1995).
A mountain of a young man looked so vulnerable, so overcome with joy, that it seemed you could have pushed the 6-foot-7, 311-pound offensive tackle from Boston College with your index finger and he would have toppled over.
The moment, when the Colts selected Castonzo with the 22nd pick overall, couldn't have been cooler.
Tears welled in the eyes of many, with perhaps the two most emotional people being Shari Castonzo and her oldest child Billy.
During one point of the draft, Anthony sat patiently a table. He quenched his thirst and tried calming his nerves by sipping from a glass of his beverage of choice, Dr Pepper, while waiting for what seemed like forever for "The Call." Shari took a napkin and wiped her little boy's head, a mother always attentive to her child, no matter how big.
As the draft drudged on, with Anthony still waiting to be selected, Billy rubbed Anthony's shoulders and patted him on the back.
And when the call finally came, at close to 9:30 p.m., Billy did his darnedest to hold back tears, a big brother so incredibly proud of his kid brother that he looked speechless.
"I don't see him like that very often so that was very neat," Anthony said. "We actually just lifted and worked out together this morning, so that was awesome."
It was an awesome night for the Castonzo family: Shari, her husband Bill and the Hawthorn Woods couple's children Billy, Kristyn, Carissa and, of course, baby brother.
The guests included aunts, uncles, cousins, little ones barely bigger than the size 20s on Anthony's feet, friends, buddies of Anthony, his girlfriend, and even his Fork Union prep school football coach, who flew in from Virginia and introduced himself simply as "Coach Shuman," as if his coaches Windbreaker didn't give him away.
An ESPN TV crew was there.
So was former Super Bowl Bear Jim Morrissey, a family friend, whose son Mike played for Stevenson and then Boston College, where he went up in practice against Anthony. Former Stevenson wide receiver Andrew Johnson, Anthony's roommate at Fork Union, made it for Anthony's big night too.
When Dallas selected Southern Cal OT Tyron Smith with the ninth pick, one of the Anthony's friends chirped, "Anth, you're better than him!"
When the Colts ended Anthony's waiting, a beaming Bill Castonzo pulled a Colts cap from a box of NFL lids and slapped it on Anthony's head.
After Anthony completed his teleconference with the Indianapolis media and finished his TV interview with ESPN's Mike Tirico, the biggest man in the restaurant let out a roar that had been pent-up. Anthony high-fived everyone in sight and delivered bear-hugs.
He held a glass of Dr Pepper high and gave a toast: to all those there, because, as he said, he wouldn't be there without them.
"Now," he barked, "we can party!"
I'll drink a Dr Pepper to that.