A Distinguished American from New Haven

ImageSome people are under the misconception that many actors, actresses, models and athletes get fame and success handed to them on a silver platter.  That is typically not the case and I distinctly remember hearing him say, “I didn’t get here on a wing and a prayer.”  Despite the challenges that this gentleman faced he had a commitment to win and that is why he has been so successful in his life.  After listening to his extremely inspiring speech and seeing him be honored with the Distinguished American Award, I knew that I had to meet him.  The man that I am referring to above is none other than Floyd Little whom I met at the Walter Camp weekend in New Haven this past January 2012.

Floyd Little was a former NFL Running back and Hall of Famer and was drafted in 1967 by the Denver Broncos.  During his 9 years he was the team’s leading rusher with 6,323 yards.  He also scored 43 touchdowns-this man was a machine!  His renowned #44 has since been retired at both his college (Syracuse) and at Denver.  Over the years he has received more than 30 community service awards but his career path wasn’t always written in stone.   His father passed away when he was young and his strong mother raised 5 children on her own.  He was picked on at school for mispronouncing a word and when he didn’t score favorable on the SAT he was categorized as slow.  Instead of letting obstacles get him down he stepped up to the plate and used the negative as fuel for creating the legacy that he wants to leave so that young people having something positive to follow.  Floyd Little is quite the inspiration and living proof that an inner-city kid has the ability to rise above the norm. “You’ve got to hang around people who want to be successful.  If you want to be the best, you’ve got to hand out with the best.”  Floyd Little must have hung around ambitious people because the New Haven Athletic Center has been renamed to the Floyd Little Athletic Center which is such an unbelievable feat for an inner-city kid from New Haven, Connecticut.

I was hoping to catch up with Floyd after the awards banquet ended but I was told that all of the men were being directed to back to the hotel and head up to the after party.  So I grabbed my stuff and headed to my car.  To my dismay I had a bright orange parking ticket on my car for not putting change in the meter which stinks because I could have sworn on weekends you didn’t have to put quarters in. However, there was nothing at the time that could ruin my mood because I was thoroughly enjoying the entire Walter Camp evening.  I reached the Omni and headed up to the Davenport restaurant at the top of the Omni Hotel in New Haven for the after party.  I immediately gravitated towards the big screen TV to check out the score of the Patriots Broncos game and Tebow was getting destroyed by veteran QB Brady.   I glanced over to my right and who do I bump into but the man I wanted to speak to FLOYD LITTLE.  He smiled at me and I knew it was fate that I bumped into him because he was on my list of people to meet and I found his speech to be quite motivating.  I told him that I really enjoyed his speech and admired his take on things.

I never would have imagined a year ago that I would be invited to the Walter Camp Award Banquet as press and would have the opportunity to stand next to Floyd at a bar table and share a cookie with him.  All I kept thinking was “Oh my God, I am sharing a cookie with Floyd Little at this very moment holy cow!”  This might have been one of the best nights of my life because I love football and I am sharing my favorite kind of cookie with an amazing former Hall of Famer- this is the life!  You never truly know what life is going to throw your way.  So in the words of Floyd Little “You have to choose to better yourself. Life is a challenge.”  So everybody follow your dreams and leave the legacy behind by helping others!



2 Responses to “A Distinguished American from New Haven”

  1. Very insightful. Keep up the good work.

  2. …“I didn’t get here on a wing and a prayer.” … If people really understood that it takes work to get to where someone else might be that they admire, I wonder if they would put in the effort to get there, knowing that they would get there…eventually?

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