Osi thanks for stepping up and taking time out to give back
On Thursday May 15, 2008 I attended the first of four events to kick off Osi Umenyiora’s Strike 4 A Cure Celebrity Charity Bowling Weekend 2008. The Senior Stop event took place at Carver High School and Osi in conjunction with Nike was on site to speak with the kids about hard work and AIDS awareness.
When you think of Osi Umenyiora you probably think about him as a big bruising Defensive End who plays for the recently crowned Super Bowl champion New York Giants. In real life he really isn’t that big, so I guess the camera really does add 10lbs! You’d never look at him and think a big offensive lineman couldn’t keep him in check. Seriously, there’s nothing imposing about his body except maybe his smile.
You sure about that Co Co? What’s not to love about this?
There’s no doubt he’s one of the best pass rushers in the NFL (just ask Donovan McNabb who unfortunately got sacked by Osi 6 times in one game) but there’s so much more to him than just football.
One of 6 on the day
He’s pretty laid- back, very soft spoken and extremely funny. He has so much personality that he really commands attention when he’s in the room. He had those kids in the auditorium amped up from the moment he stepped on stage. He talked to them like he was in high school and he was just one of their homeboys. He was enthusiastic and engaging and he presented the importance of AIDS awareness and prevention in a manner that didn’t seem as though he was lecturing them.
He informed them that they shouldn’t be having sex at such a young age, but if they were they needed to make sure they were using protection because the AIDS rate is extremely high in young African Americans.
He also stressed the importance of education, hard work and focus. He urged them to work hard at being the best at whatever it is they are trying to accomplish. He told them when he was in high school he was kind of an outsider and he didn’t really have any friends so he focused on studying and getting better. He also started playing football just to try to associate with other people and make a name for himself because prior to that he was just spending all his time in the library because no one really wanted to talk to him. Imagine that, a future NFLer with no friends.
Before he left there was a question and answer session where he was asking the students questions and the correct response would earn them a t- shirt or autographed item of some sort from Nike. The funniest part was when he got a girl and a guy to try to say Osi Umenyiora five times fast. The guy won because the girl stumbled a little.
It was a great opportunity for the students at Carver High to interact with an NFL Giant. I caught up with Osi for about 45 seconds before his speech.
C.C.: I watched you when I was at Troy and I was always under the impression that you were good, but I didn’t know you were NFL good. When did you know you were NFL good?
Osi: You never really know until you get to the NFL, I mean most people who enter college think they’re good enough to play in the NFL and me personally I felt like I was as soon as I got to college, but until you actually get to the NFL and see it you’re not really sure.
C.C.: What’s life been like for you after winning the Super Bowl?
Osi: It’s been okay. It’s been a pretty good time I’d say. I think I try to take it all in stride and not get too wrapped up in the fact that we won the Super Bowl, but I tried to chill and calm down a lil bit and I think that’s what I’ve done.
Tom could not handle the rush on this day
C.C.: What would you be doing if you weren’t playing football? What was your backup plan? What were you studying in college?
Osi: Well I have my degree in Business Administration so I think I’d be doing something related to business if I wasn’t in the NFL.
C.C.: Tell me a little bit about your charity and what you’re raising money for.
Osi: We’re raising money for AIDS and awareness of AIDS and education in Africa and basically we have Strike 4 A Cure which is also for AIDS and Alzheimer’s Disease and basically we’re trying to raise awareness and funds for that.
C.C.: Have you been affected personally in your family life by AIDS or Alzheimer’s?
Osi: Absolutely, I had an Uncle who I was very, very close to named Charles and he was in Nigeria. He died a couple of years back of the disease (AIDS) He didn’t know he had the disease and his wife also died of the disease because they didn’t know they had it. They just died from it. So, I think it’s very, very important and imperative that we raise more awareness for that in Africa.
C.C.: Finally, the word is that Michael Strahan has made his decision about whether or not he’s going to retire, but he’s not telling us yet, I know he’s called you so go ahead and tell me, is he going to retire or is he coming back this season?
Osi: I just heard the same thing you heard today about that so I’m not sure exactly what it is he’s going to do. I hope he comes back, but last I talked to him he wasn’t sure. This was about a week ago.
C.C.: Do you think ya’ll can win the Super Bowl again without him?
Osi: I think so. I mean, I think it would be difficult because he’s such a tremendous football player. Anytime you take a guy like that away from your team it’s going to be hard. That’s just like asking if we could win if we took Plaxico Burress off the team or something like that. It’s gonna be more difficult, but I have faith in the front office and the management and I think they’ll be able to do something.
This was just the beginning of a fun filled weekend dedicated to raising awareness and money. If you’d like more information about these events visit Strike4acure.com