Richard Sherman grew up in the Compton neighbourhood of Los Angeles and went to Dominguez High School, a struggling school that was taken over by the state from 1993 to 2001.
He was a good football player — recruiting services rated him three stars out of five — but a better student. He got a 1400 on his SATs (back when they were out of 1600), and missed being valedictorian by a less than tenth of a grade point.
So when he returned to Dominguez last spring, the Stanford grad had a unique message for the football team: don’t focus on football.
Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins wrote about the pep talk he gave his old team in a profile last year:
“Football players at Dominguez High reminisce about the time last spring that Sherman returned and gathered the team in the weight room. ‘Who wants to make the NFL?’ he asked. 50-odd hands shot up. ‘Now, tell me how long the average NFL career lasts?’ he said. One boy guessed 10 years, another seven, another five. ‘Three-and-a-half years,’ Sherman interrupted. ‘So what are you going to prepare for: Three-and-a-half years? Or the rest of your life?'”
Sports are often viewed as a “way out” for inner-city kids. But the odds that football will be a permanent solution in and of itself are incredibly slim. Sports can be the catalyst for economic mobility, but education is what makes it stick.
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