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Pro athletes guide Prince George’s County student-athletes on the right path


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Photo by Daniel Kucin. Flowers High School football players interact with the 4th & Life panel.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Flowers High School football players interact with the 4th & Life panel.

Published on: Monday, October 15, 2012

By Daniel Kucin

More than 600 high school football players attended last Tuesday an event that might have changed their lives.

The Washington Redskins partnered up with Coca-Cola to host the 4th & Life program, which gave Prince George’s County teams and coaches the opportunity to meet successful athletes who are making a difference both on and off the field.

Doc Walker, former tight end and Redskins great, emceed the event, and his performance was both genuine and captivating as he discussed what it takes to be successful for life after football. Each of the students were allowed to ask questions and express their views and feelings one-on-one with all of the members who took time out of their busy schedules to give back.

Lorenzo Alexander, Chris Baker, Joshua Morgan, Josh Wilson, and Olympic gold medalist and sprinter LaShawn Merritt were in attendance to portray their past struggles and life experiences.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Douglass wide receiver and Tennessee commit Paul Harris at the 4th & Life event Oct. 9.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Douglass wide receiver and Tennessee commit Paul Harris at the 4th & Life event Oct. 9.

The forum’s topics included time management, academics and coping with everyday challenges such as peer pressure.

Walker encouraged the students to keep up with their studies and to not lose sight of the fact that football does not last forever. His message was clear and powerful, and it seemed to have made a lasting impression on the teenagers.

Alexander described what he is doing to make the community a better place to live in. In 2008, Alexander started the “ACES” Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides enrichment programs for children who live in Oakland as well as the metropolitan area. The program teaches children about accountability for their actions and instills confidence and self-worth in them to achieve success both athletically and academically.

“It’s all about providing support and getting the program to help bridge the gap with low-income students and exposing them to successful individuals,” Alexander said. “Encouraging the kids to read more … all of the little things that they need to hear on a continuing basis to make them success for life is ultimately what the foundation is all about.”

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Former Washington Redskin Doc Walker emcees the 4th & Life program for more than 600 student athletes.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Former Washington Redskin Doc Walker emcees the 4th & Life program for more than 600 student athletes.

During the discussion, Walker displayed a gift to all of the local schools symbolizing an important message to culminate all of the inspirational advice that was given to each of the students. It was an authentic game-used football that the foundation generously gave to each high school’s head coach as an incentive for their players who have shown character, maintained good grades, and had exceptional attendance throughout the season.

The students interacted with the players after the program was over. 

“Today’s event was just phenomenal,” Gwynn Park head coach Danny Hayes said last Tuesday. “All of the right answers by the panel that the kids can take from it…. This is very serious for kids to know exactly what happens when football is over with, but the bottom line is that it hit home with a lot of these kids to get their grades first.”

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Track athlete and Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merrit participates in the discussion with Prince George's County student athletes at the 4th & Life program Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Photo by Daniel Kucin. Track athlete and Olympic gold medalist LaShawn Merrit participates in the discussion with Prince George's County student athletes at the 4th & Life program Tuesday, Oct. 9.

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