It takes a village to raise a kid and Ed Reed's village was located at Destrehan High School in Louisiana. (Kevin Richardson/The Baltimore Sun video)

In track, he was the long jumper and triple jumper, ran in both sprint relays and threw the javelin. As a senior he wanted to add baseball.

"Edward, baseball is not a sport where you can just leave it for three years and pick it right back up," said the team's coach, Stephen Weber, now principal at Destrehan.

But Reed defied that logic as well, starting at third base and serving as the team's relief ace, though he had little formal training as a pitcher. He hit three home runs in one game and turned an unassisted double play to clinch the league championship in another.

Reed really amazed coaches on the afternoons when the track and baseball teams competed at the same time. Give one up? Heck, no. Reed simply scooted back and forth, running in a relay one moment and hurling fastballs the next.

"If Ed Reed had decided at age 12 that he was going to play Major League Baseball, he would've played Major League Baseball," Weber said. "He's the best athlete I've ever seen."

It wasn't just his athletic talent. There was something different about him, the effervescence with which he played and practiced. Frontha remembered watching Reed as they drove to a summer track meet, bopping his head to the music pouring through his earphones.

"Man, what you listening to?" Frontha asked.

Reed laughed and slid the earphones onto his coach's head. "He was listening to gospel," Frontha said. "That made me realize right then and there that this kid was special."

He also saw early evidence of Reed's affinity for mentoring. A younger student named Tron Smith came out for the team and showed talent as a leaper. So Reed resolved to teach him the triple jump. In a year, Smith was jumping 48 feet to his instructor's 45.

"Ed said, 'Coach, you can let him jump now,' " Frontha recalled. "So he had basically worked with this one kid until the kid was better than him."

More discipline

As great as he was at play, Reed didn't get the work part down until midway through high school.

"I don't think he really thought he could do it," Hall said. "Edward had never tried. He had never applied himself. He'd do enough to get by and hey, that got him on the field, so that was enough."

Just as he is now, Reed was moody, Hall said. He cared about his endeavors so deeply that he'd get very quiet at times. And then he'd sort it out and be the lightest jokester in the room.

Reed knew he needed more discipline and sought it by moving in with the Halls during the school year. To this day, Jeanne Hall wakes at 3:30 every morning and texts prayer messages to her kids, including Reed, at 4 a.m. So this warm, no-nonsense woman had no problem get Reed to school by 8 a.m.

She remembers clearly the night she noticed a change. Reed was at her house, working through math problems after his usual 12-hour day of school and athletic practices. And she leaned over his shoulder to check his work.

"Mrs. Hall, I've got this," he said. "I know it. I don't need you to check it."

After all the gentle and not-so-gentle pushes from his mentors, Reed had clicked into a self-awareness of his potential.

"I think he woke up one day and said 'I could go places,' " Parquet remembered.

By the time he left for the University of Miami, Reed was a "sponge" for learning, Hall said, the preview version of the guy revered by Ravens teammates for his masterful study of game film.