“The funny thing is, I haven’t run since I was fresh from high school, 15 years old probably. I can’t even remember the times I got then. But surprisingly there were actually some kids who were faster than me – there’s some fast, fast kids in the States! I got a taste of everything. I got a taste of high school life, I got a taste of college life, and I left college when I was 19 so I was able to go professional and still be quite young. I think I grew a lot in high school and in college in ways I don’t think I would have grown if I’d just gone straight into football.
“I think that’s why a lot of the country kind of looks up to me a bit, I guess, or the kids at least – because I did it in that way. I went to high school, I went to college and now I’ve come over here and played. It’s a bit of an interesting route, but it gives a lot of kids hope. It’s nice to have people look up to you and kind of create a new path for kids who maybe thought they couldn’t get there.
“Man, they were definitely years in which I grew a lot. I think that’s priceless, you know? You can’t pay for growth or experience. Those years will help me throughout my whole life – not just in football but in my whole life. I’m obviously thankful for them.
“At times it was really tough. At times I was contemplating ‘should I just go back to the US and start a new career there?’ I didn’t really have my family there and I didn’t know a lot of people there. But things become a bit easier. One of the reasons that I really told myself ‘no, I need to stay here’ is that I’d come so far. Just because of a bad six months or a bad year, I’m not just going to throw it all away. Also, it’s not to prove the people who don’t believe in me wrong, but it’s to prove the people who do believe in me right. To prove to my grandparents and my family and all my friends – they always told me I could do it. I think that’s far more important than proving the haters wrong.”