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NFL Star Describes the Mentors Who Helped Him

Professional football player Demaryius Thomas' mother was arrested and sent to prison when Thomas was only 11. "[At the time] my father was in the military," Thomas writes. "My mother and stepfather and grandmother were locked up. From that day on, I was basically an orphan. I came home from school that day and I thought, Where do I go now? He eventually made it through high school and college and became a standout wide receiver. But listen to how Thomas describes what helped him:

People think orphans are kids whose parents have died, but 80 percent of orphans in the world have at least one parent who is alive somewhere. There are millions of kids just like me all across the U.S., and hundreds of millions all over the world.
We rely on the kindness and the couches of others to get us through the day. I had multiple high school coaches who looked out for me. Multiple college coaches. Deacons. Pastors. Aunties. Uncles. Friends. If even one of those people had let me slip, would you even know my name? Maybe not.
I talk to a lot of kids who have parents in prison, or who left them when they were young for one reason or another. I know the anger. The pain. The fear. Especially the loneliness. They just want somebody to say, "I care about you." But that doesn't happen enough, so they get into trouble.
As men, as athletes especially, we don't like to talk about love. We talk about brotherhood and all that, but not love. But it's the most important thing in a child's life. More important than the kind of school you go to, or what neighborhood you live in, or even if you grow up around drugs and violence. If you are loved, you'll make it out.

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