Without football and my Mom, I would probably be dead

Little Rock, Arkansas and Chicago, Illinois. Those are the two places where every single day can change a person’s life forever. My mom is the only person I know that was both raised in both of these areas and were where she had me. My life at that point was difficult to say the least.

(Photo courtesy of Chase Cole)

My mom being a full-time nurse working double shifts, sometimes even on Christmas, would find a way to make sure that we always had food in our mouth. Regardless if it was boxed macaroni, or Pizza Hut, or some type of fast food, she always made a way for us to stay fed. My mom is one of the strongest and bravest people I know and every single day she worked hard to keep a roof over our head and clothes on our back.

I had been playing football since I was about six years old. My mom loved sports and swam in high school and was on the cheerleading team, and she felt it was important for me to take part in sports as well. And it is because of her that my life is on a completely different path than what it could have been. Where my mom and I grew up alone together, you didn’t have to go very far to have access to things like drugs or gang activity. And my mom made it her priority to keep me far away from that, through the use of sports.

When we were ready, we packed our things and headed for Raleigh, North Carolina. It was the first place that was safe and gave me access to a fun filled environment where I could use sports as a way to stay away from the wrong crowds. I learned how to use sports as a fun, alternative to other activities my friends were doing. As the years went on, I made more and more friends and played basketball, football, and soccer. It all was a constant reminder of how much my mom cares for me. She would be at every game, being the loudest parent, screaming as hard as she could in order to get her point across. I used to think this was beyond annoying, but now I love it.

Football has taught me so many things throughout the years. I’ve learned how to work well with a team, how to control the things you can control and the rest will follow, and how work ethic breeds success. All of these little life lessons that the game has taught me have also been instilled in me by my mother and is the reason I am on the path that I am on.

My mom wanted a better life for me and it’s because of her that this time next spring I will be a college graduate. My mom grew up around rough environments and knew what it was like to be involved with the wrong people. When she found out she would be having a child, she was already prepared for some of life’s toughest obstacles. When I was younger, I used to question why I couldn’t be out all night like most of my friends or hang out with people all of the time. Now for me, as an adult, I understand all the things she has done for me and why she did them.

(Photo courtesy of Chase Cole)

As I got older, I realized how easy it would have been for me to just go down the wrong path.  Most likely, if it hadn’t been for the guidance from my mother, I would most likely be in jail or dead due to the circumstances of my situation. My mother knew that the odds were not in the favor of a young African American man such as myself in the environment we lived in. When she moved us to a better location, she saved me from not only a life of crime, but also gave me an opportunity to make something of myself.

Once I finished high school, I decided to continue my passion for sports and people by choosing Stevenson University, the college felt was the best choice for me and my career plans. This choice was not easy, but once again, I had my mom to lean on for advice and guidance.

As I approach my senior year, I look back on life and realize how vital my mom was in my life and how she used football as an outlet for me to express myself so I could do so freely and stay out of trouble. My mom didn’t have to move us away from Little Rock, Arkansas, but she did that because it was the best decision for our family. If it weren’t for my mother my life could have taken a turn for the worst and every single day I am proud of her for having the strength to get up and leave all our friends and family behind.

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