Shaq Lawson posed with McKinley High Students After the Gentlemen’s Institute Session (feature photo by Cameron Sokolowski aka Sumato)
On Tuesday November 27 Buffalo Bills defensive end Shaq Lawson spoke to over 40 young men at McKinley High School for the first of a seven part series of Gentlemen’s Institute workshops for male students at the school.
On the heels of a recent field discrepancy, Shaq kept it moving and stayed
focused on his opportunity to talk with young men about leadership in the face of adversity. His conversation with the young men was honest, raw, heart felt and inspiring as he drove home a message of overcoming obstacles and challenges in life. Reflecting on his own life, he shared hard truths of growing up without his father who was killed by a drunk driver when he was 15 years old.
“When my father died, that motivated me to go to college and grow up as a man…and a father figure to my younger brothers and sisters,” he said. Shaq also spoke about being a young student and his challenges with bad grades, the lure of the streets and struggles to get his life together.
With all young eyes focused on him he stood before them telling his story with his head up as living proof that no matter the hardships life can bring or doubt one may have, change is possible and that education helped him beyond measure.
“I always had sports, but at the time, I thought, man I’m not going to get
into college anywhere. My grades are bad. I’m just gonna be another dude trying to make a dollar in the streets… I’m thankful I went to Hargrave Military Academy and Clemson because if I didn’t I would have been in jail or dead or selling something” he told the young men.
Shaq didn’t deliver the typical “just go to school” kind of speech, he had a goal and that was to be sure that the young men got to know him for real and he kept it real all the way to the close of the event where he was surrounded by applause and students eager to shake his hand.
Afterwards Shaq, school principal Mark Abraham and Gentlemen’s Institute founder Lindsey Taylor made surprise visits to class rooms and the cafeteria to meet and greet students.
Shaq shared his thoughts on what he hopes had a positive impact while talking to the young men who attended the program. “Most of those kids have seen us just on the football field, but really don’t know our story…so if you go back and tell them the story and they’re like, ‘Man, I relate to that. If he can do it, I can do it.”
The Challenger News Applauds Lawson for His Positive Growth and Honest Efforts to Inspire the Youth! ` L.H.
The Gentlemen’s Institute has a funded partnership with the Liberty Partnership Programs to serve McKinley, Lafayette, West Hertel and Herman Badillo high schools.
For inquires or to learn more about The Gentlemen’s Institute email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on FB @ gentlemens_ institute / facebook.com/Gentlemens-Institute