The First Wave
My earliest memory of football is back watching my cousins play. I remember we used to be in the yard playing around. They're older than me and they used to come get picked up for football practice and I used to get left hanging. I was too young to play, probably about four years old. Bunche Park Cowboys, I used to go to some of the games, too. The next year, I told my parents I wanted to play. They sat me down and said ok, you want to play? My brothers were playing. All my older cousins. Everybody was playing, so I said why not me? I ended up playing at the same park. It was fun. I didn't know what I was doing. Had number 65 and I played everything: linebacker, d-line, offensive line, fullback. One of the big ol' kids.
So, then my cousins and I left that park and we went to another one called Liberty City. From there on, I just loved playing football. Each year it got easier and more fun. I understood more and more. It just stuck with me and I've been playing ever since.
Planting the Flag
I think the game itself was just fun. Being able to compete and going against somebody and being able to just have some success doing what you love to do. Obviously then the friendships with people and getting cool with the popular kids and then you become one of the popular kids. The whole school dynamic. Going to elementary school, some of your friends like, "That's Lavonte, he plays for such and such." You get your popularity like that and then sometimes on Fridays, we'd wear our little league jerseys. Our 'pride sets.' It's like our gear. We wore it to school on Fridays and we'd have the game the next day. That's how you knew you were a football player and people started to pay attention. It was a cool process growing up playing football, seeing some of the people that you play with make it to the same level you're at. It's pretty cool.
It's my job now but I'm still like a kid out there. Just being able to go out there and dominate my opponent, play the best that I can, understanding and knowing that I have guys counting on me. I understand I have guys counting on me to do what I do and come up every week and play the way I play. That's pretty cool. When you're little, you have a whole bunch of energy, nobody really has to feed off your energy. Now, you got some guys that look to you to get themselves going and it's pretty cool to see.