Growing up, my grandma always told me to pray. I remember when I was a kid I would be sitting at her house, and she always had on Channel 45 — the old-school gospel channel. And if I tried to sneak on some cartoons or something, she would get on me.
“Turn it back to 45! We need Jesus!”
I wasn’t the guy who got all the Division-I offers and had the road to the NFL paved for him. I bounced around a few different schools after leaving Miami Norland High School, working hard and sending out highlight tapes before finally getting invited to walk on at Central Michigan. And I wasn’t the star first-round pick, either. There were 194 guys who got drafted before me in the 2010 NFL draft.
I’ll never forget that number.
And through everything, when others doubted me and when I was doing everything I could to create an opportunity for myself, I would remember what Grandma taught me, and I would pray. I would lean on my faith. On my belief in God, and my belief in myself.
Because the only way to destroy doubt is with belief.
I went on a little tour this summer with Nike and hit five different cities to talk to kids about doubt. About overcoming obstacles. About hope.
I went back home to Miami, the city that raised me. I talked to some inner-city underdogs in Dallas, brought together two cross-city rivals in L.A. and worked with a group of kids in Chicago whose coach had recently been killed in a drive-by shooting.
Incredible kids, man — all facing different obstacles.
There was this one school in Hughesville, Missouri — a small town. Nothing like where I’m from or the other cities I visited on the tour. And these kids lost every game last season, including getting beat 102–0.
To have the opportunity to let them know that just because they’ve lost in the past doesn’t mean they don’t have the power to change that in the future — to be able to teach them to believe in themselves and to never give up by sharing my story with them — that was a blessing, man.
I guess I just want to let kids know that if they ever doubt themselves, they can look at me. I’m not six foot five. I’m not 250 pounds. I’ve been overlooked. Doubted. And I was a kid with a dream once, just like them. So if they ever get discouraged, I want them to be able to think about me and my story. I want them to think, “Hey, if AB can do it, then why can’t I?”