Words of Wisdom With Obi Melifonwu of the Oakland Raiders
“The advice I would give to a young person that aspires to follow my footsteps would be to always put God first. Without him nothing would be possible. The second thing I would give to them is to be kind and respectful to others because you never know who or what that person could mean to you later in life. The third thing would be to find something you are truly passionate about, something that has you excited to start your day. Something that makes you happy and go after it. There will be hard times throughout the journey and there will be sacrifices that will have to be made but if it’s something you really love to do whether it be playing professional sports, being an engineer or being a teacher. Chase after it because not only will you find you can achieve it you will also find that it will add structure to your life. It will teach you to be disciplined, make the right life choices, choose who you hang around, and ultimately fill your heart with joy.”
I had the pleasure to interview Obi Melifonwu. Obi is a safety for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I was originally born in London and moved to the United States when I was three. I started playing football at the age of nine because the year before that my mom wouldn’t let me play because she thought the sport was too dangerous. The following year I brought her two sign up sheets. She ended up throwing the first one away and when I pulled out the second one she had no choice but to sign. I’ve always been into sports I come from a family of athletes and my mom used to run track. All three of my brothers played football and my youngest brother Ifeatu is currently playing for the University of Syracuse, my sister also played high school basketball. Football has always been a big part of my life, I used to go to sleep with a football every night. When I had nobody to bring me to practice I used to walk to practice and sometimes I would walk back. I’ve always had a dream to make it to the NFL. And I knew the importance of school and how it would play a role in that. My junior year of high school I received my only scholarship to play football for the University of Connecticut. From there I studied hard not just in the meetings but also in school graduated with bachelors degrees in Sociology and Human developmental family studies. From there I got invited to the combine which I had a tremendous performance a couple months after I got drafted by the Raiders, in the second round. My journey on the quest to being the best teammate, son and individual is still to be continued.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your NFL career?
The funniest story that has occurred in my NFL experience so far was training camp last year when I had to sing “If I ever fall in love” by Shai.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
There are no projects in the works for me yet. But one thing I’m extremely interested in is starting a non profit organization for kids who grew up in a similar situation than me. For underprivileged kids who need positive role Models in their lives that can teach them core values such as hard work, love and humility. People that can help set them up to have a better future than what they thought they could have.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
There isn’t just one interesting person that I’ve had an interaction with. There are many interesting people. I feel as though each person I talk to is unique. They all have a reason of why they are doing what they are do and to me that’s very interesting. I try and take a piece form everybody I talk to so that I can then be a well rounded person.
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
- The advice I would give to a young person that aspires to follow my footsteps would be to always put God first. Without him nothing would be possible.
- The second thing I would give to them is to be kind and respectful to others because you never know who or what that person could mean to you later in life.
- The third thing would be to find something you are truly passionate about, something that has you excited to start your day. Something that makes you happy and go after it. There will be hard times throughout the journey and there will be sacrifices that will have to be made but if it’s something you really love to do whether it be playing professional sports, being an engineer or being a teacher. Chase after it because not only will you find you can achieve it you will also find that it will add structure to your life. It will teach you to be disciplined, make the right life choices, choose who you hang around, and ultimately fill your heart with joy.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have used success to bring goodness to the world through the kids I have met along the journey. A lot of kids look up to me as someone who made my dream come true. Through that they have seen that there dreams can also come true.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
My mother has made a profound difference in my life. Rasps got 5 kids really on her own working double shifts and still finding time for us is something that I’ve always been grateful for. She has always been my support system. She’s always given me tough love. I can remember growing up and wanting to go out to play and her saying no because I had to do my homework or write a summary of a chapter of a book I just read. At the time I though it was lunchtime but now I see that those lessons would follow me throughout high school allowing me the opportunity to make it into college. There are so many things that my mom has instilled in me that I will carry on not only through my career but to my kids so they can carry it on to their kids.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“Don’t give up in times of difficulty.” Persevere on as there will be an end to these”. This quote resonates with me so much because life is a journey, and no where near a smooth one. And throughout this journey there will be a lot of up sand downs. Some more than you’ve expected and some where you least expected. But it’s how you get through those tough times that define you as a person. It’s how you get through those times that will help you accomplish your goals. I’ve heard so many Rome’s that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. And I find that to be true. Everything you go through happens for a reason. Instead of asking the question “why is this happening to me?” Consider why this is happening to you and what you can get out of that lesson makes all the difference in the world.
Can you Share “5 Work Ethic Lessons That We Can Learn From Athletes”?
Strain– always give your best effort no matter the circumstances
Communicate– everybody has to be on the same page in order to accomplish a goal
Creativity– there is usually never one way to solve a problem. Think outside the box.
Accountability– always hold yourself accountable and admit when your wrong helps who ever your working with build trust
Dependability– no matter what,somebody they can’t count on
Respect– honor the person next to you. You may not like what he or she says or does, but they are human just like you and you owe them that.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
There are a couple of people I would love to have breakfast with. Those people in include Warren Buffet, Kobe Bryant, Jay Z and P Diddy. The reason I would love to have a sit down with these people are because they all have something in common. They are their own bosses. They are creative, driven, always trying to push the limit and they are never settled with where they are at. I would just like to pick their brain on how they got started what inspired them and how they put themselves in the position to be extremely successful.
Originally published at medium.com