Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, what you do, how you started playing football?
I’m from North Oakland. Grew up there, then moved to East Oakland, then moved to West Oakland from 8th grade through high school. So I have truly been all over Oakland.
Currently, I am a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, where I am in my second year with the team.
I started football at an early age by playing in the streets with my brothers and at school but never played tackle, just played flag football in elementary and then not again until high school, where I only played football because my brothers played.
Who were your favorite sports teams growing up?
For sure the Raiders, because that was the hometown team. But also the 49ers too. The A’s were also one of my favorites because there was a pride that came along with that team, a pride in being from Oakland. That’s the main reason. The reason I liked the 49ers is because, when I was growing up, one of my favorite people in the world loved them – my grandfather. So whatever and whoever he loved, I loved. My favorite hoop team was the Bulls because of Michael Jordan. After seeing Space Jam, it was a wrap for any other teams.
As odd as it sounds, I don’t really have a favorite athlete. There are so many great ones out there that it’s hard to choose one. Growing up I would say it was Jesse Owens. In elementary school I had to do a report on him and everything that he was able to accomplish in that era was truly remarkable. It encouraged me that I could truly stand in the face of those who didn’t like me and come out on top in sports and in life.
How has growing up in Oakland shaped you?
It’s made me so much more appreciative of where I am versus where I could’ve gone. Growing up, there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me who were going on and doing great things. The media has been painting such a negative light on black men in Oakland, so seeing that made me want to be different. I also had a great support system, such as my family and my faith in God that was instilled in me from an early age, as well friends and coaches who took me under their wings and saw something great in me.
What are some of your favorite things about living in the Bay Area?
Since I’ve been back in the Bay Area, I have enjoyed seeing the new modifications that have been made. There is a lot more stuff to do, a lot more places to eat, people out and about enjoying the great weather. I also enjoy the fact that there is always something to do and always something going on. Oakland and the Bay area in general are on the rise.
You’ve been involved in a lot of nonprofit work. Tell us more about your involvement and why you think it’s important to give back.
I definitely believe that giving back is extremely important. I would say that my outlook on giving back has always been there because I had so many great people sacrifice and give back to help me get where I am today, that I have no choice but to help the youth and encourage and uplift them. My mindset went to another level on giving back when I read in the bible that Jesus said the greatest among you is the one who serves. This changed my mindset because I have always strived for greatness but had no idea what that looked like. After reading that I realized if I wanted to be great if had no choice but to serve and help others.
I am involved with the Fam First organization, founded by Marshawn Lynch and Josh Johnson. I was a beneficiary of their foundation when I was growing up and I always knew that I would give back once I made it to where they were at.
What are some of your other interests outside of football?
I enjoy going out and talking to kids and people about life and overcoming obstacles to reach their potential. Daring to be different than what they see around them and change the world and their future and their children’s futures by taking the right steps in the right direction. I’m opening myself up more to doing that now and look forward to doing it more.
I want to get into travelling and seeing what the world has to offer. I know that there is so much out there to see and I plan on seeing it.
What are your long-term goals, in football and beyond?
My long-term goal in football is to be remembered for my play on the field by coaches, players, and fans, but also to be remembered as a great teammate and even a better man off the field. I’m working to build a legacy that my family, Oakland, and the Bay Area can be proud of.