Overcoming obstacles is the real-life game that key football players Kenny Davis and Craig Alexander play every day.
They want people to know that they are more than jerseys and helmets. They too are students using their schooling as stepping stones toward their future.
Standing at 6 feet 3 inches, wide receiver Kenny Davis entered the Country Cafe for a chilly, early-morning interview Oct. 13. Dressed in a red beanie, plaid jacket, hooded sweatshirt and sweat pants, he sat down with a smile.
Davis, a 21-year-old sports-medicine major from Pacoima and former Birmingham High School student, has kept football the core of his focus while fighting challenges.
In a matter of two years, Davis’ uncle, a mentor to him, died. His mother was in the hospital for two weeks due to low potassium and threat of a heart attack after fainting in Davis’ arms. He also tore both hamstrings, and a drunk driver hit his car when he was coming home from a party at 2:30 a.m.
His injuries from the accident included back pains, hurt ribs and swelling in the right side of his head and right kneecap.
“The doctors told me that I would never play again because if I get hit (while playing football) the wrong way I could be paralyzed,” Davis said.
After six to seven months of rehabilitation, the doctors gave him the green light to play again.
“He is very determined. As long as he keeps up the momentum he has, he can achieve his goals himself,” said peer-mentor Janet Duenas.
“I want to get my family into a better place. We are OK now, but I want my parents to not have to work anymore,” Davis said.
He is part of a skate team called the “Certified Rollers.”
Craig Alexander, free safety and co-captain, met outside the Men’s Gymnasium for an extremely sunny afternoon interview.
The 22-year-old Inglewood resident and former student of Grant High School sat on a bench in his plain white t-shirt, shorts and baseball cap, explaining how appreciative he is for the opportunities that have been presented to him.
“I’m happy to be a part of a team. I’m happy to be playing,” Alexander said.
His schooling is a major focal point in his life. During the week, he is strictly involved in the 14 units he is enrolled in, along with playing football.
He spends his weekend time with family and friends, keeping his life simple. Football is not the only sport he is involved in, also playing basketball as part of his outside training to stay in shape and build up his cardiac health. He also occasionally plays baseball.
Counselor Joseph Roberson, a former member of the Pierce football team, has been pleased to work with Craig.
“I am impressed by his perseverance. He has great potential for success, and in Craig’s case, that has meant fighting through adversities,” he said.
Alexander is a student first before anything. He plans to receive his associate degree and transfer to a university before progressing in football.
The concept of being part of a team to reach a common goal is what intrigues him about the sport.