Family’s journey helped prepare Packers S Peprah

He has started only one game since entering the league in 2006,

so Charlie Peprah is something of a mystery man to Green Bay

Packers fans and certainly to opponents.

With Peprah in the mix to start Sunday’s game at Washington

because of injuries at safety, the story of how he got here is even

more intriguing.

Peprah’s grandfather, I.K. Acheampong, rose to power as the head

of state in the West African nation of Ghana in 1972. He was

removed from office in a coup, then executed in 1979. The family

fled to Europe, then the U.S., where Peprah was born and raised in

Texas.

Peprah said his mother’s life helps him keep everyday

difficulties in perspective.

”Just seeing how she handled herself, raising three kids after

my parents got divorced, working two jobs, having her father

executed, having to get up and leave (Ghana), all that – such a

strong woman,” Peprah said. ”I think that got passed down to us.

Like these little problems we deal with in day-to-day life, ‘Oh, I

lost my cell phone or my computer crashed,’ even getting your car

stolen, that’s all little.”

Peprah says his family’s story is real to him, even though he

was born after the most traumatic part of it.

”You know, I didn’t get to meet my grandfather, so from that

aspect, there’s a little bit of a disassociation of emotional

ties,” Peprah said. ”But knowing what my mom went through and the

whole journey she took and where we’re at because of all that is

very real. It affected how I was raised, why I was brought up the

way I was and where I was, so it’s something we talk about all the

time.”

Peprah’s family fled to Germany, then England, and eventually

settled in Texas.

He played high school football in Texas, then college football

at Alabama, and was taken by the New York Giants in the fifth round

of the 2006 draft. He was released and picked up by the Packers,

where he played mostly on special teams and started one game in

2008.

Peprah hurt his knee in training camp last year, reached an

injury settlement with the Packers and signed with Atlanta in

November. This year, he returned to the Packers and could start

against Washington after rookie safety Morgan Burnett tore an ACL –

if he’s healthy, that is.

He has missed the past two games with a quadriceps injury, but

knows he’ll be needed Sunday and expects to play.

Peprah’s coaches praise his intelligence and understanding of

the team’s defensive scheme. But when it comes to his family

background, they don’t really know much about him.

”I didn’t know that,” secondary/safeties coach Darren Perry

said. ”That’s interesting.”

Peprah took a trip to Ghana to visit his father in February 2008

and said it immediately felt like home.

”It was a lot of fun,” Peprah said. ”It’s crazy. I wasn’t

born there, I was first-generation, but when I step off the plane

there’s a sense of feeling like I’m home. It’s kind of cool. But I

loved it.”

Ghana is more stable today than it was in the 1970s. But when

Peprah sees news reports or movies about unrest in African

countries, it touches a nerve.

”Any time you hear something like that, genocide or fighting or

military taking over the government, overthrows, social unrest, it

all hits home,” Peprah said. ”I can relate to it somewhat as far

as what it can cause. But it definitely makes you appreciate

life.”

And when Ghana’s national soccer team played – and beat- the

U.S. in the World Cup in June, Peprah definitely took sides.

”Oh, I had my jersey on,” Peprah said. ”I was rooting for the

Black Stars all the way.”

Barring an injury setback, Peprah will be suited up in his

Packers jersey on Sunday. And he hopes to prove something to fans

who don’t know much about him.

”It’ll be a great opportunity to show what I can do and let

people know I can play,” Peprah said. ”I’m excited about that. I

think people will be pleasantly surprised.”