Marcellus Wiley, a defensive end from Inglewood California and a graduate of Columbia University, is entering into his ninth season as an NFL player.
On Tuesday, June 14th, Wiley addressed a group of 75 children attending the Boys & Girls Club Summer Camp Activity program held at Lola M. Culver Elementary School.
Having grown up in southern California – Compton, to be precise – Wiley is familiar with the kind of surroundings and experiences some of these kids are faced with on a daily basis. The surroundings are not necessarily negative all of the time, but there is pressure to get involved with people who are not aspiring to do anything positive with their lives.
"Every choice starts with a thought," said Wiley. This was the concept he wanted the kids to grasp and never forget.
"The first thing you need to start your journey on the road to success is a thought, which leads to dreams, and goals, which leads to your choice of fulfilling those dreams.
"Although I grew up in a rough neighborhood, I made a choice to not get involved with the wrong crowd. That's how I escaped a lot of trouble …Everyone one has the same opportunity to make something of their lives."
It took Marcellus discipline to get to where he is today.
"When I was little, Carl Lewis, the Olympic track star, came to my school and spoke to our class. I remember him saying there are certain disciplines to running track…that kind of stuck with me because I could apply that to anything in life, especially school," he explained.
"I studied for 30 minutes every day. That's how I disciplined myself, and by doing so I made all A's and B's." He then added, "The fun of studying happens right now because I'm doing the things that I want to do and having fun."
After Marcellus spoke, he hung around and chatted with the kids one-on-one, and even played a quick game of Connect Four. He won.
Wiley started out his career in 1997 with the Buffalo Bills, where he played for four years. He then played three years with the San Diego Chargers from 2001-2003. In 2004 he played for the Dallas Cowboys.
In 2005 the Jacksonville Jaguars will be looking to Wiley to bring his experience and maturity, and his athletic ability, to the field.