--By Alex Williams
(position: nose guard; age: 17)
I. From Chicago to Mt. Pleasant
I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. I really saw some bad stuff there. Every day, I’d look at the news and see that somebody else had gotten killed. Kids were killing other kids. But I didn’t want to be the shooter or the person who was getting shot.
An average kid in South Chicago will grow up to drugs and violence, but my mom and granny, they raised me to be a good man.
After my momma got cancer, we moved to Mt. Pleasant, TX. In 2009, we went down to Mt. Pleasant to visit family for Thanksgiving. I met all these cousins and my great-grandma—family I’d never met before. A week after that, my mom and granny said we were moving to Mt. Pleasant, because there was a doctor there for my mom, and we’d be close to family. We moved in March of 2010, my eighth-grade year.
I remember, the week after I moved to Mt. Pleasant, there was a shooting on the block I’d lived on in Chicago. You don’t see that kind of violence in Mt. Pleasant. The crime rate here is, like, zero. I can walk outside, stand on the porch, go to the movies, and not worry about getting killed. I think it was good that I was raised in Chicago, because now I can really appreciate how great it is in Mt. Pleasant.
II. What I Want Other Kids to Know
When I was five, I started playing football for the Pop Warner teams in my district, and my mom was there for me every step of the way. She was there when I got the Offensive Lineman of the Year award. She was there to see me graduate from the eighth grade.
But after my mom passed away from cancer my freshman year, I didn’t play football for awhile. Her passing was just too much on me.
Sophomore year, I started playing again.
Before every game, I go into my own space, bow my head, and talk to my mom. I let her know that I’m going to give it my all and go out there and shine, just like when she watched me when I was five years old.
I know other kids say things like, ‘I hate you Mom’ or ‘I hate you Dad,’ because their parents holler at them or whatever. I want to tell them to just cherish the moments you have with your parents, because once you lose them, they’re gone forever.
For me, I’d love so much to see my mom in the stands when I play for the Mt. Pleasant Tigers. I would love, after a game, to go up to her and give her a hug, and ask her how I did. She’s not here for me physically, but I know she’s watching me from heaven, every game.
(image and audio by The Recollective
at 4th and 1 Football Camp
; more Six-Word Memoirs from camp available at SMITH Magazine