A Seattle Times article tells the story of Anthony Kelley, an African American University of Washington football player that entered the university solely focused on a sports career, but quickly realized there was more to life.
This article was one of the most inspiring stories I have read in a long time.
In summary, Kelley grew up in a neighborhood with gangs and poverty in Pasadena, California. His family was homeless for a time and he often had the task of caring for his siblings while his mother worked and attended school. As a youth, he was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, which caused difficulty in school. Football, he thought was a way out of his neighborhood.
He graduated high school with a low SAT score and grade point average, but the University of Washington took a chance, recruiting him as a 'special admit'. There, the focus was not on academics, but the game.
While in his assistant coach's office one day, he saw a picture of him in Spain. The coach told him it was an amazing experience, and that he should try studying abroad himself. "But that's unofficial, the assistant coach added. Don't tell anyone around here I told you that."
Kelley then went to his advisor and told her he wanted to study abroad in South Africa. Along with the assistant coach, they both discovered a way to make this possible. He applied for a Mary Gates scholarship that would help to cover travel expenses - he was the first football player to win this honor.
Kelley made it to South Africa. But it's what he accomplished while in South Africa and upon his return home that is truly inspiring. Read the article here.
Photo: Alan Berner/Seattle Times