A life after professional football can be a scary one for a lot of NFL players.
Many players grow up playing football their whole lives — it’s a major part of their identity, who they are as a person. When they retire, get cut or are medically no longer able to play the game, it can be tough for them to find their footing and determine what to do with their rest of their lives.
Former Bears fullback Freddie Stevenson is doing his best to help those who were once in his shoes. In his first book, Trials to Triumph, he elaborates on his journey to the NFL and the obstacles he had to face to get there, as well as the struggles that he faced once his playing days came to an end.
“It’s an amazing story that relates to anyone that’s overcame a struggle in their life, which is pretty much all of us,” Stevenson told Windy City Gridiron. “Even though all of our struggles are different, I’ve had people that aren’t even tied into the sports realm, they’ve come to me saying how they can relate to my story and [that] it’s impacted them. I just think that it’s a story that’s inspiring. When people read the story and see the things that were overcome to get to the level that I made it to, it’s just going to give them that drive to feel like they can do anything at all.
“If you dive into the story and see the environment that I came from,” Stevenson explained. “The obstacles I overcame, being homeless, and growing up in the environment that I grew up in, a lot of people didn’t make it out because they gave up hope. They didn’t believe that there was better out there for them in life. Me just continuing to believe in the midst of that struggle, I could make something out of my life. When somebody reads my story, they’re going to get the feeling that they can, too. A lot of us have the tools we need to be successful, but the one thing that’s lacking with a lot of us is that confidence, that belief. Seeing someone going through a struggle that’s similar to yours that you can relate to, it gives you that edge to keep pushing forward and not quit.”
Growing up in Florida, Stevenson’s family was far from affluent. With a single mother who had to work multiple jobs to feed five children while his father was in prison, he experienced firsthand what effect poverty can have on a person.
“We were homeless, moving around from place to place,” he said. “My mother [was] working multiple jobs just to make ends meet because my father was incarcerated for drug trafficking. We didn’t know when he was going to come home, so we didn’t have any money. The feds possessed everything that he had, so we went from living a great lifestyle to not having anything at all.
Stevenson’s primary social media handle is @strugglemade105, using the moniker on both Twitter and Instagram. He touted that handle as a guiding force for his motivation, noting that the name comes from a particular story he experienced while he…
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