Jacksonville Jaguars Community Report 2016-2017 - Page 30

Many children in our surrounding neighborhoods face poverty and lack of opportunity. Coming from a similar background of not having much money growing up, I can relate to a lot of the kids that we work with who are facing adversity. Through my role with the Jaguars, I am fortunate enough to be in a position to influence hundreds of children in our youth football community by opening them up to new experiences and perspectives that they may not have had otherwise. I believe the first step in helping them to see past adversity is to introduce them to the possibilities around them. In doing so, I use our players as mentors, give our youth football athletes the chance to play on professional fields, give kids their first NFL game experience, provide a variety of resources to kids and families in need as well as share my story to serve as inspiration. I didn’t have much growing up but the one thing I did have was goals. I had a love for sports like most kids. I played youth football, high school football, basketball and track and then went on to play college basketball at a community college for two years. I didn’t have the ACT scores needed to attend a four year university, but I didn’t let that stop me. I took that setback and used it as motivation to push towards my dream of becoming a professional athlete. Two years later I was recruited by Bradley University as their power forward training everyday to one day play in the NBA. Although I didn’t make it into the NBA, I did become the first tight end in the NFL to transition from another sport. Through my dedication, I was sought out and asked to try out for the Indianapolis Colts. A few weeks later, I was playing under the best in the league, Peyton Manning. Peyton was a true leader that made everyone around him better. Today, I take his methods and apply it to the youth football programs I run with the intention to make our youth better.