When I lost football, I lost myself. But it took hitting rock bottom to realize my true power.
Why did I address you as King? That is a great question, and I’m glad you asked. I call you King because who I am on the inside calls out who you are on the inside. How we view ourselves is often how we view others. I view myself as a King; therefore, that is how I view who you are too. “King” is not just a title; it is who you are at your core, which then sets your code of conduct and way of living.
But I did not always see myself this way.
My parents divorced when I was 13, and for the first time in my life, I experienced pain like never before in my heart. The man that I had grown to love and admire was not only leaving my mother, but he was walking out of my life. My father had been my hero, and he could do no wrong until he was no longer the man of the house. I transitioned into the role of a surrogate father to my sisters and a friend to my mother. I was the strong one, but even I had my moments of weakness. The football field became my outlet to unleash all the pain, resentment, and anger without repercussions. I never, ever talked about my pain. Football was my coping mechanism; it was how I identified myself because I didn’t have a male figure or role model to teach me I could be more.
After a successful college career, I began pursuing a dream to play on Sundays. I was a free agent on the market looking for an NFL home that would allow me to continue my coping. The Green Bay Packers gave me that opportunity. I did everything right, but the football Gods chose to see my fate otherwise. I was sent home with no contract and with the suspense of “stay in shape, and we will call.” The call never came.
I began to fall into a deep depression. I identified myself through what I did on the field. When I could no longer do what I loved, I lost myself.
I knew football, but I didn’t know life. I had spent my entire life loving something that would not love me back one day. I had given so much of myself to the game, and it rendered nothing but heartache for my experience. The helmet secured me and hid my pain and scars. Without it, I lost confidence.
I didn’t know who I was without football, and I didn’t have any more space for all the hate and bitterness I harbored toward my father. So, I attempted suicide. Grateful to God, I survived. But, it was now clear – there was no more outrunning my issues. If I wanted to grow, to be happy, and to thrive, I had to face them head-on.
With my mother’s support, I began seeking help and counseling. The therapist would often say “It’s a choice you have to make, either it will define you, or you will define it. Jay, you have to choose happiness, it will not choose itself.” Often, we choose to accept the narrative we’ve learned without challenging it with a different perspective. I was blessed to find a great tribe, but I had to learn how to embrace their support.
I had a weekly radio show on a small station, and I would make weekly posts on Facebook about it. One day I met a man of African descent. I began talking with him about my station and the work I did with youth. He became interested and began listening in. One day he called in on the show and said, “I would like you to meet a close friend of mine, I think he can help you expand.”
I had no idea the “friend” was an actual King from Nigeria.
We met at Starbucks. He asked me did I know who I was? I was silent, confused, and kind of disappointed, because I had no real answer.
And that’s when the lesson started. He said, “Take notes on what I am about to share and never forget this. YOU ARE A KING, and here is why.”
He went on to explain his upbringing in Africa, and how his dad told him from birth that he was a King and he was born to rule. Because of his father, he knew he born to do great things.
Well, that wasn’t my story, I only knew football and anger. I had no clue what a King was as it pertained to life and operating in the characteristic of owning one’s rightful throne.
He said “The problem with my most Black [American] men is none of you know who you are,” and “When you understand who you are it changes how we view things.” He was right in my case – most of the boys I grew up with or men I was surrounded by were not in a “King” mindset. We identified ourselves as athletes, D boys, or hood n*ggaz. That was my narrative, and anything other than that was considered square or lame.
He went on to say that I was a warrior and that I should tell my story of triumph like one. He said he had never felt inferior to his counterparts because knowing who he was gave him pride and self-awareness.
After leaving this conversation, I began to ponder on how I have heard my mother call me a King without understanding that it was more than a noun. It was a verb and adjective as well.
At that moment I began to research and study my life and the teens around me that shared similar experiences. I observed that many of us were only becoming what we saw. We knew nothing else, and I realize that we’re royalty according to the scriptures 1 Peter 2:9…
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
I created I AM A KING, the movement to encourage young males to become rulers as King by ruling their mind.
That is our control system. So many of us as young men are controlled by the social messages and things that have been embedded in our mind, and it dictates our choices.
My mission is to encourage males to take control of their mind by choosing what they mentally consume. Physique, presence, athletic ability, and strong structure is not the real weapon. It is the mind that is the weapon that will win the game of life.
Once I was no longer controlled by the hate, anger, and resentment that once fueled my pursuit in life, I began to go against the grain and take the hand I was dealt and win in life. I became a King because I refuse to allow stereotypes, narrative, or experience to determine what my life would become. I refuse to allow the system or statistics to be right: that being raised without a father, or coming from a broken home, shaped a negative future.
You can succeed beyond your environment, experiences, or situation. None of us can change how our story began, but we possess the power to write how it ends.
Stand up KING. Claim your throne and wear your CROWN.