I often ponder where my life would be had the ‘Life After Ball’ not entered it. Without a doubt, I would not be sitting in the seat that I am in today.
This program has opened my eyes to an entirely new world that I never knew existed and helped me discover a passion that will continue to propel me forward.
You see, while I always focused my attention on being a well-rounded student-athlete and greatly emphasized achieving success in all aspects of life, I never really knew what the future held for me.
Football, music, and being a good student were all I had ever known.
That was until the day that I was introduced to Life After Ball and I was faced with one of the most difficult questions that had ever been asked of me.
What would my life after football look like?
I can still vividly remember the day that I committed to play football for SMU and officially began this impactful journey.
The strong relationship that I had built with my linebackers coach, the reputation that SMU held in the state of Texas, and the opportunity to remain in my hometown of Dallas were all factors that led to my decision and were far too incredible to turn down.
While I had found a home at SMU and instantly felt as though I was a member of the Mustang Family, the course of my entire life was about to be forever changed.
Two years after my arrival, I met Lisa Rawlins, Assistant A.D. for Student-Athlete Experience who had been involved in the organization and the early stages of launching the program Life After Ball.
The goal was simple. It was to teach young professionals basic life skills, help them attain internships, and prepare them for what life after sports would look like.
While the premise behind the new program was enticing, I had my own set of apprehensions.
Balancing life as a student-athlete at the Division I level can present its own set of unique challenges and obstacles, and I feared that adding an additional obligation to my full schedule would be nearly impossible.
Looking back, however, making the decision to be in the Life After Ball program was the most impactful choice that I have ever made in my entire life.
It is a life-changing program, and the day that I made the decision to be a part of it, my life did just that.
I learned how to create a resume, send a professional email, and how to sell myself as an individual who is far more than just an athlete.
I can still remember instances, even forty-five minutes or so before kickoffs, sitting outside of the locker room with Lisa Rawlins, formatting a last-minute resume for an upcoming interview or internship opportunity.
When I tell you that this organization and its people changed everything for me, I truly mean it.
I remember one moment in particular.
A man named James Ray came to speak to some of the athletes in our Life After Ball group. A senior commercial real estate executive in the greater Dallas area with an incredible track record of success.
He asked the group two questions that still, to this very day, remain with me.
Are you a hard worker? Do you want to see your hard work pay off?
I was enthralled by those questions and incredibly eager to learn more. I sat in awe at all of the words that were being said and found myself asking questions of him until time expired.
I have been a hard worker my entire life and every accolade, milestone, and achievement has come as a result of just that.
The real estate business seemed like a place in which I could put that work ethic on full display and watch it pay off.
Prior to that encounter with James, I had never heard of contingents, addendums, or the varying types of leases and sales that exist in this world.
I always had aspirations of building properties and homes, but I would have never known how to pursue those dreams.
But Life After Ball changed that narrative and introduced me to individuals like James, who would open my eyes to the endless world of opportunities that exist in this profession.
They helped me discover a passion and assisted me in gaining internships that would not only provide valuable experience but would continue to allow me to grow as an athlete, a professional, and, most importantly, as a human being.
After years of working closely with Lisa, and the entire organization, my answer was clear. While I cannot predict exactly what the future has in store, I know precisely where I am heading.
There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for SMU, its football program, and of course, Life After Ball.
I completed five successful years on the football field, started all twelve games in my final season, and finished as the team’s third-leading tackler.
I earned a college degree and completed four successful undergraduate internships.
More importantly, however, I had the opportunity to develop into the man that I have always dreamed of becoming.
In my final season at SMU, I was an AFCA Good Works Team Nominee and was added to the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List for my extensive community involvement and service to the greater Dallas area.
More than all of the team wins, solo tackles made, or turnovers caused, those nominations continue to stand out above all of the rest.
It was the honor of my lifetime to represent SMU and the Life After Ball organization, and in all of the days ahead, I will continue to do all that I can to make them proud.
As an acting real estate developer, artist, and humanitarian, I look forward to continuing to learn and develop in this profession and taking my amazing collegiate experiences right along with me.
After all, those experiences are what made my life after ball so incredible.