Mike Evans is one of the most prolific athletes in the National Football League. The 6'5" receiver has snatched 31 career touchdowns and is just four touchdown receptions shy of the franchise record. Not to mention, he is one of five receivers in NFL history to begin his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Yet, despite his on-field success, his most important feat is something that won't appear on the stat sheet. It is his ability to use his platform to inspire and mold the path for today's youth. One of the ways Evans plans on doing that is by launching his Mike Evans Family Foundation on Monday, December 11.
Here at Buccaneers.com, we had the opportunity to catch up with Mike for an exclusive Q&A discussing his foundation, his journey and much more. Check it out below!
Buccaneers.com:* First and foremost, what's the inspiration behind your Mike Evans Family Foundation that is set to launch December 11?
Mike: I wanted to start a foundation for a while now. It is a process that goes into it, but we are finally getting it done. What we are focusing on with the Mike Evans Family Foundation is helping kids who do not have the funds to go to college - kids that come from low-income families that worked really hard to apply for college and got in, but need financial assistance. If I wouldn't have had a scholarship to go to college, then I probably wouldn't have went or I'd probably be in debt if I did, so I wanted to help as much as possible in that aspect. Secondly, I want to focus on women and families that suffer from domestic violence because I grew up in a household with domestic violence [going on] and I know how hard that can be, especially during the holidays. That is why I am starting up my first event during the holidays, because I know that is a tough time for a lot of people and the people I am focusing on through my foundation.
Buccaneers.com: With that, how significant are these causes to you since you can relate, having been in these certain scenarios?
Mike: - I know what it means – my wife thought it was a good idea to focus on both of those [causes] and we came to an agreement that this was the best thing to do. We want to start off small, but hopefully we can get as big as possible and help change a lot of kids lives and families lives, too.
Buccaneers.com: I was looking at the calendar for [the week of the event] and aside from the launch, you have a couple of other events planned. What are the other events you have going on?
Mike:We are going to a women's shelter, I can't tell you which one, but we are going to go to a women's shelter and there may be some men there too, but everyone there has suffered from domestic violence and we are going to serve food to them. Then the third day, 13 kids are going to get a tour of One Buc Place and then they are going to get some really cool gift bags.
Buccaneers.com: That sounds amazing. Mike, as I am sure you are currently experiencing, it takes a lot of work and commitment to create and maintain a solid foundation. What ultimately led you toward deciding 'Hey this is the time, this is what I want to do, let's make it happen right now'?
Mike: Absolutely, it really does, but really just seeing the progress with all of my teammates foundations, you know Jameis just started his and a lot of my teammates have had theirs for a while. Vincent Jackson had his and I just want to be in that position to help. I have a platform and I feel like it's my duty to help as much as possible and like I said, it's a long process to get it started, but I'm happy that we got it started.
Buccaneers.com: That leads me into my next question, Mike. How surreal is it for you at the age of 24 to be in a position to use your platform to inspire the youth and set the path for the future generations?Mike:It's awesome. Aside from being in the NFL and playing at the highest level of football in the world – I am a competitor [and] I love it – but this is the best thing to me. Being able to help people, help my family, help my friends, and others; people that I don't even know, I want to help because there are a lot of people out there who need help and I'm just trying to do my job.*
Buccaneers.com:* You hear the term relatable superstar thrown around, do you find that to be the case for you?Mike: Yeah, I can [relate]. I am a normal person. I don't get big-headed or anything like that, I know how blessed and fortunate I am to be in this position. I had a lot of people help me along the way, so I just want to give back and help while I can.
Buccaneers.com: Now transitioning a bit here into your career path, Mike, as you embark on your fourth season in the league, there are definitely no shortage of accolades under your belt. You've corralled 31 career touchdowns, four shy of becoming the all-time touchdown receptions leader in franchise history, not to mention, setting a record with three straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons and on track to make that four in a row. Yet, when you reflect back on your journey and what you've accomplished and how far you've come, what stands out the most in your mind about your path and how you've handled success?
Mike: A lot of help. I had so much help [starting with] my mom. You know, my dad died at a young age [but] I had a lot of good father figures in my life. Life was hard, but the people around me made it so easy, that's what it is. That's why I try to be as giving as possible and I try to give back to the youth, because guys gave back to me and I want to do the same thing. Anything can happen in life. It's not about what you're given when you're born, it's about what you do after. That's just my take on it. I just want to give back as much as possible and just have fun living life.
Buccaneers.com: What would you say has been the biggest life lesson you've learned at this stage in your life, whether on or off the field?
Mike: To go hard in whatever you do and to not take anything for granted. That's one thing that I go by, I can't take anything for granted, because I can be walking around the house and something [can] happen to my knee and I'd probably never be able to play again. So, I can't take this opportunity for granted. I am in a position where I can help a lot of people and I want to capitalize on that and that's what I am trying to do.
Buccaneers.com: Just to wrap it up, as someone growing up who had a dream of becoming a professional athlete and eventually achieved that goal, what is your biggest piece of advice to the youth when it comes down to setting goals and taking steps towards achieving them?
Mike: Just keep working. In school, whatever you're doing just try to be the best at it. If you're playing a team sport take the coaching, listen to them. Listen to your elders and go hard at whatever you do and that's pretty much it. Just go hard and everything will fall into place.
Buccaneers.com: Faith and grind, right?
To learn more information about how you can get involved with the Mike Evans Family Foundation and make an impact, Click Here!