(position: defensive tackle, age: 16)
I had to have been, like, six when I first started playing football. That first practice, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t even know whether I was supposed to be on defense or offense. They gave me a helmet, pads, and pants, right? But I didn’t know to have a mouthpiece.
Of course, my lip got busted the first time I got hit, because I didn’t have a mouthpiece. I was like, “Momma, this is not the sport for me. This is not the sport.” But she said, “Don’t give up just yet because something bad happened. Don’t give up just because you got hit once. You’re gonna get hit multiple times. I mean, it is football.” So I said, “Coach, I’m good. Let me go back out there.” And he was like, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yeah.”
Ever since then, I've loved football.
My mom's a single parent. She does everything for me. She thinks I don’t understand how important all that stuff she’s done for me is. ... Maybe when I come back from this camp, I’ll tell her how much she actually really means to me, ‘cause I know I don’t do that a lot. ... She’s my motivation to go far in life.
(as told to The Recollective
at 4th and 1 Football Camp