Richard Sherman talks sports and stereotypes to UK students

Richard Sherman, the starting cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks talks about the hardships he went through growing up and about life in the NFL Wednesday, April 8, 2015 in Lexington, Photo by Joel Repoley

By Cheyene Miller

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Richard Sherman gave students a look into his rise from the streets of Compton to CenturyLink Field on Wednesday.

“Growing up you always have a vision. You have dreams,” said the Seahawks star cornerback, who was the guest for the Student Activity Board’s SpeakBlue event.

Sherman began the discussion, which was moderated by School of Journalism and Telecommunications director Beth Barnes, by telling the crowd about his experiences growing up in Compton, Calif. and the struggles of living in the inner city.

“Nobody chooses where they’re raised or what family they’re born into,” said Sherman, who noted that violence and poverty were always prevalent. “You have adversity just like in every other city. I think it molded me into the man I am today.”

He spoke about earning a scholarship to Stanford, where he adapted to a different culture than what he was accustomed to.

“I like proving people wrong,” said Sherman, who noted that time management was the key to success in balancing both academic and athletic success. “I wanted to prove a point that we can make it, that people from the city can make it.”

Sherman became surrounded by controversy last year after his post-NFC Championship interview with Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews, in which he declared himself the greatest cornerback in the game, and called out San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree. Some people labeled him as a “thug,” and criticized his behavior.

“Despite what people think I’m not a thug, I’m not a gangster. I wear my pants pretty high up on my hips,” Sherman said. “You can’t ever let anyone dictate your emotions, dictate who you are.”

He said that his father, a Los Angeles garbage truck driver who was recently recognized by the city council, has been a huge inspiration in his life. “He just had an incredible work ethic that you couldn’t help but respect,” Sherman said.

He also spoke about becoming a father, his thoughts on the NCAA, the NFL’s concussion policy and his charitable foundation, which provides school supplies and clothing to students in impoverished, inner city schools.

“God has blessed me with that platform to be able to give back and help others,” Sherman said. “I define success by improving the world. By leaving the world a better place than where you found it.”

Broadcast journalism freshman Ryan Ruff said that Sherman was “basically how I expected him to be. Maybe a little funnier.”

Ruff said that the stereotype of Sherman being labeled as a “thug” is bogus.

“He’s a really nice guy. Really calm, cool and collected,” Ruff said. “I totally get how he turns into an animal when he’s on the field, but it doesn’t define who he is.”