MU Football Player Reaches Out

Our four teen boys recently hung out with L’Damian Washington, Senior Wide Receiver for Mizzou Football. In the words of a 14 year old, it was the “Best Day Ever.”

It was a fun and inspirational opportunity, especially considering L’Damian’s background. He talked to the boys about persevering through struggles and the importance of setting goals for yourself.

We’ve compiled some highlights from an article in the Columbia Missourian, written over a year ago, explaining Washington’s history and motivation. We hope you’ll take a moment to read through it, and be inspired!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | By: Andrew Wagaman

L’Damian Washington lost both of his parents during his childhood in Shreveport, LA, his father being shot and killed when L’Damian was only 5 years old, and his mother dying of complications from a blod clot when he was 15 years old. At the time of his mother’s death, Washington’s older brothers were only 19 and 17 years old, and his younger brother was nine.

Their mother had taught her sons to stick together. Now she was gone, but they did not consider going separate ways. It wasn’t easy. The oldest brother worked whatever jobs he could get while the younger brothers continued school. When L’Damian Washington turned 16, he began working at the same hospital his mother had, delivering archived medical records doctors requested.

Sometimes, it wasn’t enough. Sometimes, they had no running water. Sometimes, the power went out. Rent went unpaid.

L’Damian Washington had other people looking out for him. He began attending Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday, and he spent many nights at the pastor’s house, as his best friend, Josh, was the grandson of Pastor Jimmy Smith.

Allowing anyone else to support him, though, was not an option. Everybody has problems of their own, L’Damian Washington said. And besides, he would not leave his brothers.

“It made us tougher, and it brought us closer together,” L’Damian Washington said. “I praise God for that.”

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L’Damian’s success at MU is not solely sports related. He also continues to make good grades, and he says that his degree comes first at Missouri. He plans to use his degree in psychology to help other Shreveport kids from what he calls a hard background.

What does co-offensive line coach Josh Henson say about L’Damian Washington’s ability to survive his tough situation? Henson is not totally sure, but he has an idea.

“I think the biggest factor is not feeling sorry for yourself,” Henson said. “Some people get in a tough situation and say, ‘Well I can’t succeed because of this, I can’t succeed because of that.’ Instead, L’Damian said, ‘I’ve been dealt the hand I’ve been dealt, I’m going to make a choice to do something great with it.'”

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Thanks, L’Damian, for being such a wonderful role-model and taking the time to inspire and reach out to our teenage boys. It was an experience they will never forget.