NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A Middletown, N.J., football star is making quite the homecoming this weekend.
Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno will play in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, just 40 miles from where he grew up.
Moreno provided one of the NFL season's enduring images when he was caught on camera during the national anthem before Denver's Dec. 1 game at Kansas City with tears flowing down his face. The moment left Zane Beadles, Moreno's teammate, saying: "I've never seen anybody cry like that. Never seen that amount of tears."
Moreno told CBS 2's Otis Livingston the tears poured as he was reflecting on the sometimes challenging path he has taken in life to get where he is today.
"Just being grateful for the position that we're all in, being able to play this game, play this game with this team," said Moreno, who rushed for a career-high 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. "Having that moment of a silence and just going through a lot of things throughout your life that you've gone through."
Moreno spent the better part of his first 10 years of life in dilapidated apartments or, even worse, in homeless shelters with his father.
He said he felt like he was living all over New York City's five boroughs.
"It was tough times," Moreno said. "I was young though at the same time. But we just made do with whatever we had at the time. Being young, you tried to see the brightness in all the negative things. And I think I've done that throughout my whole life."
Moreno, who faces the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, began making positive strides on the football field at Middletown South High School, where his team was unbeatable in three seasons. He was the star of the team and was even selected as CBS 2's Athlete of the Week once.
"I definitely remember those times," Moreno said. "We had some great times on that team. We were able to go 36-0 and win three state titles. It was a great team, and we all played for each other."
At Middletown South, they certainly remember the talented running back who put the school on the map before running all the way to the NFL and now running on its biggest stage, the Super Bowl. On Friday, it will be Knowshon Moreno Day at the school, where everyone will be sporting Broncos colors.
"It's amazing for him," said James McCarthy, a freshman at Middletown South. "And growing up here, watching him play, I want to do it. I want to be him."
"What we feel -- from the emotions about him here at the high school and myself and my family -- we couldn't be more proud," said Steve Antonucci, the school's football coach.
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