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FORMER NFL PLAYER INSPIRES YOUNG PEOPLE

It can be rare for kids from Frisco to truly understand poverty...that’s something we can all be thankful for. But perhaps recent events could help them appreciate it a little more. “This was not rolling blackouts, like what we had last month,” describes Romby Bryant. “Imagine weeks of no power or water, heating up bath water on the stove...all because no one paid the bill.” 

Romby Bryant, a former NFL player, is a success story. But that success didn’t come easy. He recently described his life journey to a group of 75+ youth and adult leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Frisco.

Bryant was raised in Oklahoma, the son of a dope dealer and drug addict. His father spent more than 30 years of Romby’s life in prison. His mom left when he was in Middle School. At that time, Romby was in a pattern of making choices that reflected his parent’s choices. But loving grandparents and extended family decided to step in and “it changed the trajectory of my life,” Bryant says, “If I would have stayed I would have ended up like my father.” 

They enrolled him in a new school and got him heavily involved in sports, specifically football. After graduating he enrolled in a junior college and was a walk-on. He later attended The University of Tulsa. Although he played for the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons, it’s the Baltimore Ravens that he credits with being his favorite, mainly because of the culture and morale. He later made a name for himself in the Canadian Football League as a wide receiver. When asked about his success he credits hard work, passion, and true dedication. “You have to be willing to give up some things, i.e. summer, weekends, etc to get what you want. The kids that are resilient, have grit, and are willing to wait their turn are going to be more successful.” 

But just because you get to play football professionally does not mean life is easy. Bryant described the transition out of football as being especially hard. “I didn’t know what to do or what I wanted to do. My identity was wrapped up in my dedication to football.” He says with schooling (earning a Master’s degree) and trying new things, he has found his passion in leadership development. 

Bryant also discussed with the youth his experiences with racial injustice and profiling. He suggested to the teens that they need to have people in their ‘Rolodex’ that think and look and talk differently than them. Talking about racism he said, “Policies have changed but behaviors haven’t. The only way to change behavior is by being intentional. Intentional relationships with people from all walks of life will be what makes the difference.”

This McKinney resident is now raising kids of his own and encourages kids everywhere to “Be an ally! Stand up for the underdog. Listen to others.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2021