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Rachel G. Bowers

Here’s a closer look at Danny Shelton, the newest Patriot

Danny Shelton is entering his fourth NFL season.Ron Schwane/AP/File 2014

Defensive tackle Danny Shelton joins a young Patriots unit with a strong upside but one that needed reinforcements.

Shelton, who was acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns over the weekend, comes to New England with three NFL seasons under his belt after being a first-round draft pick out of Washington in 2015.

Here is a closer look at the newest Patriot:

Age: 24. Height: 6 feet 2 inches. Weight: 335 pounds.

Hometown: Auburn, Wash. High school: Auburn.

Career stats: 46 games (44 starts), 1.5 sacks, 71 tackles, 57 assisted. Played 43.7 percent of snaps in 2017.

Injury history: Shelton had surgery on his left wrist last offseason. He suffered a calf injury early in the season last year and missed the fourth game of the season. He suffered a rib injury in Week 13 and missed the following game.

Family: Shelton has four siblings, three brothers and a sister. Their mother, Oneone, pushed academics — and it was competitive. “I was the one with the 4.0 GPA [in high school], and my brothers would say, ‘Oh, we can beat her!’ ” Shannon Shelton said in 2014.


During Shelton’s senior season at Washington in 2014, he earned first-team academic All-America honors with a 3.54 GPA, a first in 23 years for a Husky football player.

“He never played around when it came to academics,” teammate John Timu said then. “He took it very seriously.”

The family endured tragedy during Shelton’s final semester of high school in 2011. In an altercation on May 1 that year, Shelton’s older brother Shennon was shot and killed, and his oldest brother, Gaston, was shot in the chest but survived. The gun then jammed and Danny Shelton threw a chair at the gunman before taking him to the ground. (Shelton spoke extensively about the incident in a video series leading up to the 2015 draft.)


Just a few weeks after his brother’s death, Shelton captured the Class 4A shot put state championship with a throw of 60 feet, 1 inch.

“I’ve been through a lot with my family over the years, and the one thing that I learned from all the adversity that we’ve faced is to worry about what’s in your life right now,” Shelton said in 2014. “Don’t look forward. Don’t look in the past. Embrace and take the opportunity that’s in front of you and succeed at what you’re doing.

“Have 100 percent focus on what you’re doing right now.”

Shelton said he struggled managing and channeling his anger even into his first years at Washington. But he matured and evolved and began to share his story with others.

“I’m stubborn,” Shelton said in 2014. “I’ve always just taken everything on my own. That’s probably why I’ve been so angry in the past a lot, because I’ve held so much in and wouldn’t let anybody in. But I’ve slowly started letting people in.”

A dog man and a Doggie Santa: Shelton has four rescue dogs: Moni (pitbull), Juicy (husky), Mojo (husky malamute), and Juju (French bulldog).

“My pups give me responsibility,” Shelton told The Seattle Times in 2014 during his senior season when he had just Moni and Juicy. “To keep me out of trouble, I like to put a lot of responsibility on my back. So right after practice, I know they’re at home waiting for me so I have to hurry up, get dressed and get back home because they can’t eat without me. When other guys go out or things like that, I go home and I’m with my dogs and my girlfriend.”


For the last two holidays, Shelton has made a trip to Cuyahoga Dog Shelter just south of Cleveland to offer treats, toys, and gifts to the pups there, even dressing up as Santa.

This year, he sponsored a kennel at the shelter.

When Shelton proposed to his fiancée Mara in 2016, he, Mojo, and Juju were dressed in tuxedos at LAX, waiting for Mara to land so Shelton could propose. When the couple married in February this year, the four pups were a part of the wedding party. And the Sheltons have made an Instagram for their furry friends.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Moni Juicy, Mojo & Juju (@the_furry_sheltons) on

Broadening the mind: Shelton earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology studies and took to learning more about his Samoan roots. (He is half Samoan, half Peruvian.)

“I finally got a chance to study Pacific island culture and that kind of really just clicked for me as far as making the next step to what I want be as far as being a representative,” he said of his major. “It opened my mind to what this world’s become.”


During the fall of 2014, Shelton interned at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, which is the oldest public museum in the state. When he completed the internship, the museum staff certified him a “Burke Nerd” with a small ceremony.

While at Washington, Shelton also spent two summers in Tahiti studying the effects of colonization. In a video series leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Shelton talked extensively about being called a “half-breed” while growing up and his journey toward finding, appreciating, and growing into his identity.

“I don’t know about everybody else, but I always felt that I wasn’t really a Samoan because I was half,” he said. “It was tough on me just going throughout life.”

After a freshman year in which Shelton said he did not give his best in the classroom, he realized as a sophomore that taking advantage of the opportunities at Washington could help him connect to his culture.

“For me, I feel like it’s been the best journey, trying to get back into my culture as far as having to face all these little stereotypes that some full-breds give to half-breeds, having to deal with not being able to understand your uncles and aunties to actually maturing and starting to hang out with other Polynesians, starting to try to squash beefs. I’m just glad I’m able to see the change in how our Polynesian community has grown,” he said.

Change in numbers: Shelton wore No. 55 at Washington, but wore No. 71 his rookie season in the pros. But before the 2016 season, Shelton was able to go back to No. 55, which is a nod to his oldest brother.


“55 is a number that my family holds to our heart,” he told cleveland.com in 2016. “My brother, Shennon, ‘Skeevie’ Shelton, he rocked that number and he rocked it with all of his life. Everywhere you turned he’d throw up a 55, he’d tag walls with 55, walls in the house. Everything was 55 for him. For me to have this opportunity to wear and represent 55 is awesome. I’m just excited.”

Time in Cleveland: Shelton said he thought his rookie performance went “really poorly.”

“I had opportunities there,” he told cleveland.com in 2016. “I definitely didn’t stray away from the competition but I definitely could have been better.”

But he went into his second season 30-35 pounds lighter with an eye on sharpening his mental edge and leadership skills.

“He’s been more vocal in the locker room,” former teammate Desmond Bryant said in 2016. “He’s setting up stuff for guys to do off the field. We did a little paintballing, go-karting thing the other day that Danny set up. I think that the stage is set for him to do great things.”

Shelton improved a great deal in his second season, showing signs of his disruptive presence and run-stuffing ability in the trenches, but his coaches said he needed to be more consistent.

“How did he do this year? He did well,” then-defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. “He did what we wanted him to do. Did we have ups and downs? Yeah, we had ups and downs as a unit and as a team, but Danny is going to be one of the bright stars of the league because he can play that position, and he is smart and he can play it very well.”

In his first two seasons in the league, he played in a 3-4 system at nose tackle. Last season, under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Shelton went back to the 4-3 system.

Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.