Youth1 is proud to launch our newest interview series, Y1 on 1. Beginning today, every Tuesday we will feature a top athlete in the sports world, from former elite college stars to pro athletes. These super talented athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and NCAA offer a private look into their own past success and the obstacles they overcame to achieve that success. You may be surprised to hear what they hold as their greatest accomplishment and most importantly, what advice they offer for youth athletes today.
This week, Youth1 sat down with former star standout at Virginia Tech who played 8 years in the NFL at defensive back for the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills, Keion Carpenter:
What have you learned from sports that have helped you most in life?
Sports have taught me how to be disciplined in all areas of my life. The sacrifices that I've had to make from playing football showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to and that there's nothing in this world I can't accomplish. It also taught me how to have fun.
Who helped guide you on your path to become a pro or college athlete?
My mom has always been the driving force in everything I do. I’ve also had many coaches throughout my life, but one in particular, Mr. Brian Scriven, my high school coach, helped guide me to college. He made me believe that I could go and that if I took care of my business in the classroom I could be successful in college and all of my dreams could be attainable.
What is the greatest moment(s) in your sports career and what do you recall most about it?
My greatest moment in sports had to be in 1996 when we were playing the University of Miami on the road. At the time, Virginia Tech had never won there. I made the game clinching interception and ran it back 100 yards for a TD. That has to be one of my biggest moments ever because of what it meant to my team and the University.
Whether they be good or bad, share a pivotal memory from your time as a youth athlete.
I struggled a lot with anger issues as a youth athlete and sometimes my attitude and anger would get me in trouble. I did something stupid in one of my high school games that got me suspended for the following week’s game. That was selfish of me. I let my team down because I was the quarterback and the captain. I felt awful for letting my coach and teammates down and I never let that happen again at any stage of my career. I never put myself above the team again.
Would you advise youth athletes to play multiple sports or specialize and focus on only one? Why so?
I played multiple sports and it helped me tremendously. Basketball is actually my first love and I also played baseball and ran track as well. I always tell kids to never put all your eggs in one basket. You maybe be better in one sport than you are in another but you will never know unless you try. The object for me was to get a college scholarship so I wanted to give myself as many chances as possible by playing multiple sports because I knew I wasn't the only one fighting for limited scholarships! Give yourself a chance and play as many sports as you can. Plus college coaches like that as well!
What specific advice do you have for youth athletes?
Work as hard as you possibly can. Always be respectful and remain humble. Never be afraid of being different. If it was easy everybody would be playing football, but it's not. Always be willing to do what others won't.
Looking back, is there anything on your journey that you would have changed or done differently?
The only thing I would change is I would have developed more relationships/friendships in college outside of the student athletes on campus. I know I had to be sitting next to a few CEOs and other important people, but I rarely made friends outside of the other athletes from other sports on campus. That's the only thing I would change.
Outside of sports, what are some of your other interests?
I love going to Church, traveling the world, spending time with my kids, and supporting them in everything they want to do. Being a father is the best title that I could ever hold.
Do you take part in any philanthropic endeavors or work with any charities?
I created The Carpenter House Inc in 2005. We serve underprivileged families and children throughout the Baltimore area and nationwide. We provide affordable housing, mentoring, tutoring services and after school programs for youth and help for those in need during the holiday seasons. We are a full service non-profit that prides ourselves on going the extra mile trying to help serve others! www.carpenter-house.org
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