The first "a-ha" moment was when I saw my name on the locker. Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in the NFL, and it has so much history. All I could think about was how many greats have been in that locker room and shared the same lockers as me. That touched me in a different way.
I remember this moment when I was eight years old of my dad sitting down at the kitchen counter, pulling up YouTube on the laptop and talking to me about his favorite NBA and NFL players. It started with basketball and Dr. J (Julius Erving), then it went to football. My dad pulled up Dick Butkus highlights and said "he was the meanest linebacker to ever live." Then it was Gale Sayers, Mike Singletary and Walter Payton.
I ended up falling in love with how these guys played and the old school style, particularly in the run game. Every person had their own style, their own way of greatness. Sayers was more of an elusive guy; he would run back and forth across the field. Earl Campbell was more of a downhill guy; he would just run right through you. And then Payton, Mr. Do It All.
My parents weren't able to make it to Family Fest Sunday, but I called them Monday and recapped my experience with them. They did make it to the family barbecue the Bears hosted at Halas Hall before training camp and my dad was like a kid in a candy shop. He walked through the halls, saw the different players, read about the history; he was in his own world. I've never seen him like that. It made my heart jump.
His dream growing up was to play in the NFL, but he never got the chance to do it. He's kind of living out that dream through me. It meant the world to see him so happy that day because he's been a huge part of how I made it here. Since I was little, all I've wanted to do is make my parents proud and prove the people around me right, rather than prove others wrong. I'd like to say they're proud of me.