I enjoyed a glorious Sunday morning of praise, thanksgiving, and reflection on what a blessed life that I have with my wife and children. As I was sort of listening to the early morning NFL television hype, my attention was drawn to the story of Jimmy Graham.

Graham is the tight end of the New Orleans Saints, who were playing against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football.

I instantly became riveted to the expose that was his life story. Graham was essentially abandoned by both his father and mother and by age 11 was living in a group home where he was physically beaten by the older children at the home. When he called his mother to beg her to come and take him back home, she hung up the telephone.

A church counselor eventually took him into her home and raised him as her son. Graham excelled as a high school basketball player and eventually was awarded a basketball scholarship to the University of Miami, where he played for the Hurricanes. Graham graduated from Miami in May 2009 with a double major in marketing and management, then stayed at Miami to take graduate classes while playing a season of football.

Graham was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, with the 95th overall selection. He signed a four-year $2.445 million contract on July 28, 2010. Wikipedia.

He now appears to be well on his way to being a premier tight end in the National Football League.

While his football prowess is obvious and impressive, Graham’s story of perseverance, courage, and determination is what is so remarkable. Young people and in particular young African-American males need to be made aware of stories like Jimmy Graham’s, as living examples of what can be done with an unwavering spirit and a determination to make one’s life better.

While the pain of abandonment will never be forgotten, Graham stressed the ability to forgive as he obviously fought back tears during his interview. I often write about the need for those of us who were abandoned by a father or a mother (fortunately for me it was just my father) to become better and not bitter about our past. Graham seems to be a living example of this approach.

Because of the glorification of the professional athlete or entertainer in our community, stories like Jimmy Graham’s take on an almost super human significance since it is mainly in the arenas of sports and entertainment where we can still sometimes get our young men to pay attention.

The trick will be to get them to pay attention to the “against all odds” successes of so many other men who have similar stories to that of Jimmy Graham, who are doctors, lawyers, engineers, factory workers, barbers, all responsible and loving family men…….yes, even President of the United States of America.

If you are not familiar with this powerful story, please learn about him and most importantly……..Read, learn, and share………Have a Family Meeting!

C. Randolph Keller

2011 All Rights Reserved.

This entry was posted in American Spirit, Athletics, Conduct and Behavior, Faith and Ministry, Family, Fatherhood, Love and Relationships, Poverty and Hunger. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Peter Jurbala says:

    I teach social studies at a high school in Clearwater, Fl. that serves a mostly behaviorally challenged, economically disadvantage, morally neglected group of young people.You might say an entire school of 1%ers. I like what I do and have collected what I feel are very good, if not always effective, strategies and stories that are designed to lift some of the weight that burden so many of my students. When I watched this story of Jimmy Graham at home Sunday morning, I immediately thought of several students who are right at the point in their personal lives of deciding which direction they want/can go. I tell them all the time that backwards is always an option, but even the people behind you get out of your way when that’s the direction you choose. Forward is where success and opportunity can be found. It requires hard work and determination because, in that direction, nobody wants to get out of your way. Jimmy made the hard choice to go forward. A hard life can still be a good life. I ask my students to identify the legitimate success stories in their own neighborhoods, not just those who have reputations. They struggle with this because it is easier to look the other way for guidance. Too easy to just be angry. Too easy to be bad. Too hard to be good. I showed this video to all my students. Locked up inside of of them are emotions that are difficult form them to understand, harder to demonstrate appropriately. I don’t know who, if any, made the connection from Jimmy’s story to their own story, but I’m betting some did. I just don’t know who. Time will tell.
    Hank Araron has always been a inspiration to me because he, like Jimmy Graham, knows who the real heroes in this world are. Perspective gets us ready for life. Thanks, Peter Jurbala
    Calvin Hunsinger School

  2. Pingback: Jimmy Graham Saints Highlights [Video] | 97.3 The Dawg

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