Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams has a tattoo on his left forearm as a reminder of his cousin Alessa Norris, 16, who was killed in a car accident in 2009.
Adams told reporters at the NFL Draft Combine Thursday that Norris was like a sister to him and her death was a tough time in his life.
"It was a pretty crazy time in my life, and something I think has made me stronger," he said.
The same year Adams was dealing with the death of Norris, he was suspended the first two games of the Ohio State football season for violating team rules and was cited for misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, though those chargers were later dropped.
Adams was later involved in Ohio State's "Tattoo Five" scandal, which got him suspended for the first five games of last season.
He is aware that he has a lot of questions to answer about those incidents and his character this week at the combine.
"I've had some bumps in the road early in my career but I think I've let those things build my character instead of break it down," he said.
"I think my character is something my teammates and my coaches at Ohio State will vouch for. Anybody who knows me knows I'm not a bad guy. I might have made some mistakes but I definitely learned from them."
Adams could be a player of interest to the Lions with the 23rd pick. He is considered one of the top four offensive tackles available in the draft and has seen his stock rise with a good performance at the Senior Bowl.
Matt Kalil of USC, Riley Reiff of Iowa and Jonathan Martin of Stanford are considered by most analysts to be the top three tackles. Cordy Glenn of Georgia, who can play guard and tackle, could also be a possibility for the Lions.
Offensive line isn't a dire need for the Lions, but it couldn't hurt to improve their depth up front and get a little younger and more athletic in spots.
The Lions like
The Lions will likely be very interested in what Adams has to say during their 15-minute interview with him this week.
"We take everything into account, whether it's something that happened off the field or it was something that happened on the field," said Lions coach Jim Schwartz when asked about the evaluation process of guys with perceived character issues.
"There's the medical part and there's a character part and an intelligence part. All those things weigh in and you don't discount any of them. Everything goes into a player's evaluation.
"All that stuff goes beyond the film. The film is obviously the most important thing and all those other things round out the picture. Everything a player has done is part of their resume."
Adams, who measured 6-foot-7 and 323 pounds, said his strengths are his athleticism and blocking in space and the fact that he likes playing through the whistle in the run game.
Things he needs to work on: "Consistency of my technique and getting my hands a little too wide sometimes and maybe over-setting," he said.
Even though Adams hails from Ohio State, he said he would be "blessed" to join any team that drafted him, including the Lions, and said he isn't opposed to playing right tackle, either.
The big question will be how Adams' interview goes?