Students at Union Middle School welcomed a very special guest to Spartan country this week — retired NFL player turned author and motivational speaker, Levar Fisher.
On Tuesday, Fisher shared his “Freeze and Think” message with Union youth, stressing to them that “life is all about choices, decisions, and consequences.”
“The decisions you make today dictate your tomorrow,” he told students, encouraging them to listen to the “dreammakers” in their lives — family and friends who provide support and encouragement — instead of the “dreambreakers” — the bullies and haters who try to discourage.
Fisher shared that he had both types of people in his own life and had to decide how each would influence him. He recalled when he revealed his dream of playing in the NFL to his mom and how she encouraged him to go for it. However, he also remembered having classmates in high school who made fun of him and his dream, telling him he was too fat and too slow to ever play college, let alone professional, football.
Just when Fisher was about to let the school bullies get to him, his father pointed out to him that he was a young man and had a choice to make.
“My dad said, ‘You’re either going to prove them right or you’re going to prove them wrong,’” he shared. “Man, that motivated me.”
Fisher also turned the bullies’ mean words and jokes into a source of motivation as well and pushed himself to train harder and pursue his dream with even more determination.
And it paid off. He shared with the Union students how he was recruited by North Carolina State University to play football. The first in his family to go to college, Fisher attended N.C. State on a full football scholarship. As part of the Wolfpack, he made the first All-ACC selection in 1999, 2000, and 2001 and was also named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, leading the nation then in tackles.
Not only did he excel on the football field, Fisher also excelled in the classroom. A mass communications major, Fisher was also an Academic All-American.
After graduating from N.C. State in 2002, Fisher’s dreams of playing in the NFL came true when he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals.Through playing in the NFL, Fisher was able to buy his mom a new house and tell his dad, who Fisher remembered working long, hard hours but never complaining, that he didn’t have to work anymore if he didn’t want to.
“Does anyone dream of doing something like that for their family,” he asked the students at Union Middle as several hands shot up.
Later, in 2006, he joined the New Orleans Saints but a knee injury soon ended his football career. In 2009, Fisher established headquarters for his own speaking and event firm as well as a self-publishing company. He is also the founder of Fisher of Men, Inc., a non-profit with a mission to teach, save, and mentor a national community of at-risk youths on the ongoing struggles associated with daily decisions involving alcohol, drugs, and gangs, to name a few.
“I love the quote, ‘If the dream is big enough, the facts in your life don’t matter,’” Fisher said. “Your dreams can come true. One day you’re going to prove them (the bullies) all wrong but it starts right now.”
“The number one person in your life that can hold you back is not the bullies and haters — it’s yourself,” he continued, stressing to students the importance of making good decisions so that their dreams can be kept alive and realized.
“All it takes is one choice in your life that can spin your whole life around,” Fisher noted, telling of an experience in his own past that did just that.
He shared with students how when he was in high school a couple of his friends talked him into going into a neighbor’s house and taking some of the neighbor’s valuables. He and his friends thought the neighbor was out of town but they soon found out he wasn’t. Fisher described hearing footsteps and the cock of a gun behind him as he ran and jumped out a window. As he ran away from the house, he heard gunshots going off. When he finally stopped, he realized his two friends weren’t close behind. He later discovered that both his friends had been shot, one of them fatally.
“I was kicked out of (high) school and got a bad reputation. I was the kid everyone talked about,” he said. “I lost my freedom, a friend, and football,” he shared. “I wish I hadn’t done it. I wish I could go back in time. You can never go back but what you can do is just freeze and think about the consequences.”
“There is opportunity in front of each and every one us. There are no winners, no losers, in this room, but each and every one of us is a chooser,” he said.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.