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“It was hard to see him in that situation, but he made it easier on me because he was upbeat and in good spirits” Cleaves said. “Some people can turn a negative into a positive, and he’s one of those people.”

Some believe Burress has taken the lesson of his experience seriously, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a prominent advocacy group that pressed for him to go to prison but supported his unsuccessful bid to get work release last year.

Held in protective custody because of his celebrity status, Burress didn’t have a cellmate but was able to socialize with others in his unit, including “Sopranos” actor Lillo Brancato Jr., who’s serving 10 years on an attempted burglary conviction.

Burress worked as a grounds maintenance laborer, completed an 100-hour anger management course and tutored other inmates in reading, writing and math. His wife, who’s a lawyer, visited frequently with his young children, Frankel said.

At Oneida Correctional Facility, he had some brushes with prison discipline, too.

At various points, prison officers said he lied to get to use the phone at a time when calls weren’t usually allowed, gave another inmate a pair of sneakers (considered an “unauthorized exchange”) and had three dozen cassette tapes and an extra, state-issued pillow in a “filthy” cell strewn with bags of food, dirty clothes, books and mail, prison records obtained by the AP show. The infractions _ considered minor _ cost him recreation, phone and other privileges at times, and he was told to clean up his room.

Still, Burress “really bent over backward to try and learn what the rules and regulations were, to try to comply,” Frankel said.

That ends Monday upon his release.

“We are grateful that Plaxico will be reunited with his family,” Giants co-owner John Mara said Thursday. “His release from prison is long overdue.”

Burress will face no further disciplinary action by the NFL. His league suspension was concurrent with his jail term.

Former Giants teammate Osi Umenyiora said the lockout may work in Burress‘ favor because he will have time to train and get ready for the season.

“He will be great when he comes out and play very well like he always has, I’m sure,” said Umenyiora, who said he visited Burress in prison. “I know many teams will give him a chance because he has rare talent and ability. Overall I’m sad for what he went through, but glad that that time period is over.”

The Giants have said they will keep their options open when Burress comes on the market after missing two seasons. But Vick, who served a 23-month federal sentence for running a dogfighting ring, has shown it is possible to successfully return to the league.

After missing two full seasons and playing sparingly in 2010, the 30-year-old set career highs in passing yards (3,018), passing touchdowns (21), rushing touchdowns (9), completion percentage (62.6) and passer rating (100.2) this past season in leading the Eagles to the NFC East title, earning The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award.

Vick said in a radio interview with WIP in Philadelphia that Burress would be a great fit with the Eagles.

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