NEW YORK (AP) - Ella McFadden woke up a little after six in the morning, too nervous to sleep any longer. The big day was finally here.
Of course, the NFL draft wasn't going to start for another nine hours or so, Manhattan was sleeping outside her window, and nothing could make that hour hand spin any faster.
What's an anxious stepmom to do?
``I've been up drinking coffee, so I'm pretty wired right now,'' she said shortly after Darren McFadden was taken fourth overall by the Oakland Raiders.
Saturday was quite a buzz for most of McFadden's relatives. The former Arkansas star running back had plenty members of his close-knit family in New York for the draft.
Ella McFadden, of course, was there, just as she was back in December when Darren was a Heisman Trophy finalist. His sister, Gaylon Muhammad was there, too. She wouldn't miss it.
Her future hinged on the pick almost as much as Darren's did. She plans to move in with him and look out for him like the big sister she is. She'll be the family's representative in Darren's life, a little bit of home always with him way out in California.
Though when the relatives come for visits, they're going to have to get their own plane tickets.
``I will not be a travel agent,'' Gaylon said, laughing.
She's about to graduate from Memphis next weekend, taking her degree in business with her to Oakland, where she'll find a job in her field while her brother works in his.
After four years apart when they went to separate colleges, she's looking forward to being back with him on a daily basis.
Growing up, the pair was tighter than tight. The McFaddens used to race each other - and their father, Gralon McFadden - up and down Schiller Street in Little Rock. It might be where Darren developed the breakaway speed that the Raiders couldn't pass up, despite having a glut of running backs already.
Then again, Darren couldn't break away from Gaylon until about four years ago.
``Once his legs grew a little longer,'' says Gaylon, who runs track for Memphis. ``Once those feet got bigger.''
Ever the protective big sis, Gaylon's going to be there to keep Darren focused. Although he's always had his head screwed on pretty straight, even as some people around him got into trouble, the life of an NFL rookie can be like nothing else.
``She's going to help me around the house,'' Darren said. ``Being that far away from home, she's going to help me out in whatever way she can.''
Gaylon's going to be there to keep him grounded as his star rises higher.
``He's always looked up to her,'' Ella McFadden said. ``She's kind of tough. I don't think he'd want to fool with her.''
The rest of the family will follow Darren's career from afar, but not too far. Plenty of cousins, nieces, nephews and friends joined him in New York to witness the draft, and will be headed for Oakland to watch him there, too.
His cousin, Tyronza Witter, was a ball of nerves before things got going. Sure, cousin Darren was about to walk across the Radio City Music Hall stage and shake the commissioner's hand. But there was also a chance he could wind up playing for Atlanta, Witter's favorite team.
``My stomach is nervous,'' she said. ``I want for him to be a Falcon so bad.''
Of course, it didn't happen, but after Darren went to the Raiders, Witter was all smiles and laughs, making plans with other relatives for dinner later, and asking a fan in an Atlanta jersey what he thought of the player the Falcons did pick, Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.
Ryan, defensive end Chris Long (St. Louis Rams) and tackle Jake Long (first overall to the Miami Dolphins) were the only players who went before Darren McFadden on Saturday. The fourth pick in the draft is nothing to sneeze at - McFadden stands to make millions and is on a direct path to stardom in Oakland.
``All I could think is that he really deserves it,'' Ella McFadden said. ``I'm just so happy for him.''
His relatives came from Atlanta and Little Rock and everywhere else. They all came to see their cousin, but they got more than that.
Over meals or in the hotel or even sitting on the worn, velour seats in the Music Hall as organ music played before the draft, family members got caught up. Cousins Witter, Denishia Morgan, Tina Nokes and plenty of little nieces and nephews and sons and daughters were running around, chasing tiny footballs across the carpet or napping in the crook of a matronly arm.
``I just surround myself with family members and a lot of close friends to know they're going to be there for me,'' Darren said.
This trip was about Darren, but it seemed to be about more than that. Sure, there's the spectacle of the draft and the pride that comes from knowing and being family with that guy on the stage with all the flashbulbs flickering.
He's about to become even more famous. He was already a superstar in the world of college football, but now he's going national. His picture will be all over newspapers, TV and Web sites. He will be paid a sum of money that exists mostly in daydreams. Millions of Americans he will never meet will examine his stats and read about his performance in training camp, trying to decide if he's worthy for their fantasy football teams.
He'll be a commodity, almost. At times, he might not even seem like Darren.
``He's my cousin,'' Morgan said. ``He'll never really be famous to me. He's my cousin and I love him.''

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