Coach Ginn, I want you to know this is what you mean to me

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To: Coach Ted Ginn

From: Jayrone Elliott

Charity: The Cleveland Transformation Alliance

Sponsor: The Morrow Group & Co will donate $25 to The Cleveland Transformation Alliance in honor of the first 25 shares of this letter

Dear Coach Ginn,

I have tried to thank you but you won’t let me. You don’t like the recognition.

You are such an important part of my development, as it’s been your words and your wisdom that has shown me the way throughout my young life.

Jayrone says Coach Ginn was a critical part of his maturation process. Photo by Karin McKenna

You once told me to have the courage to be different. You wanted me to become a product of who I am instead of where I come from.

In Glenville, Ohio people don’t have huge bank accounts. In fact, I didn’t even know what a bank account was until I got to college. Some people feel forced to get into the streets and get into the drug and gang life. They are just trying to provide for their families. While it’s not right, they believe they have no other options.

Before I met you, I, too, thought my options in life were limited. I was stubborn and unmotivated. I didn’t foresee myself going to the NFL. I wasn’t on track to go to college and I certainly wasn’t developing the skills to be a leader.

The day I met you, my life began to take a different course.

It was the summer going into my freshman year of high school. I was walking through Glenville High School’s parking lot when our paths crossed. You asked me if I played football and I told you I didn’t have the grades. You decided to help me.

From that moment forward you starting pushing me. You had a vision for me that showed me I had more options that I initially thought.

You once told me to have the courage to be different. You wanted me to become a product of who I am instead of where I come from.

You told me you believed if I worked hard, I could go to college and I could make it to the NFL.  It took me some time, but I eventually bought into your vision.

Jayrone received a scholarship to play at Toledo.

My dad didn’t live with me. I moved out of my mom’s house during high school because she had four kids and she worked two jobs to put us through school. I didn’t want her to worry about me, so I stayed with some of my friends.

Throughout high school, you, Coach Ginn, provided the stability I needed to stay focused and accomplish the goals we set out together.

You challenged me to hold a higher standard for myself – whether it was getting tutors for school, going to class on time or helping out the younger guys.

You got the best out of me because you made me feel loved by giving me advice, being consistent and making my future your priority.

Because of that love, I became focused, diligent and determined both on the field and in life.

It paid off.

One day you sat me down and told me Michigan State offered me a college scholarship. That was my first offer. I was ecstatic, as your vision for me was coming true. Ultimately, I chose Toledo and I graduated with a degree in individualized studies.

In 2014, I went undrafted but got picked up by the Green Bay Packers.

Throughout my NFL journey I have continued to use your words to guide me.

As you know it’s not easy being an undrafted guy. There are no guarantees. In the tough moments while I wait for a call or wonder  if I will make the cut, I think of another statement you told me.

You would always say, “Stay patient and stay poised to seize every opportunity for success.”

Jayrone went undrafted in 2014 but was signed to the Green Bay Packers.

That is what I did and that is what I do. That is why six years since being undrafted, I am still playing in the NFL. Currently, I am with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I am not only proud of  the fact that I have remained in the NFL, but also how I have conducted myself off the field throughout this  journey.

You told me to leave a place better than how I found it.

Whether it is going to an elementary school and passing out gifts or mentoring children, there are so many ways I can make a difference now.

If I am walking through a building and see trash, you taught me that I should pick the trash up and throw it out. It is not my job but it is helping the janitor out.

You taught me to be selfless and to understand that everyone has problems in their lives. Practicing what you preach, I watched you battle pancreatic cancer. Even during your battle, you remained concern about how my life was progressing.  Following your example, I try to always be willing to listen to people no matter what I am going through. Like you are for so many,  I, too, want to be a good role model.

Coach Ginn, I am not sure if I would be anywhere near where I am in life if it wasn’t for you – as a football player, as a son, as a father and above all else as a man. You didn’t just give me the courage to be different but you gave me the tools to realize my potential.

You may not let me say thank you but I still try to show you my appreciation for changing the course of my journey. I do so by using your love, your words and your wisdom to hopefully change the direction of someone else’s life.

Go Tarblooders!

Jayrone Elliott #51

 

Written with Lauren Brill

About the author:

Jayrone Elliott is a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has spent time with the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio where he was coached by Ted Ginn Sr.

Repost, React and Give Back

The Morrow Group and Co, an insurance brokerage that services residential and non residential clients for personal and commercial insurance solutions, will donate $25 to The Cleveland Transformation Alliance in honor of the first 25 shares of Jayrone’s letter. The Cleveland Transformation Alliance is is a public-private partnership dedicated to growing a portfolio of quality district and charter schools.

The Unsealed will match donation if we get 100 news subscribers and 100 new followers on our Facebook page by 9-20

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So nice Roger <3

Pat, Your letter touched me in a very profound way. It left me in tears in the middle of my work day. It made me want to share something with you. On a July morning in 2007 a police officer answered a 911 call I had made when my Mother went into cardiac arrest. Between that officer, my best friend and the fire fighters who showed up minutes later they were able to restart her heart, however at the hospital she passed away an hour later. At the end of his shift that officer stopped by my home to check on the situation and cried when I told him the unfortunate news I received only 4 hours prior. He tried to apologize to me. I looked at the anguish in his eyes and asked him directly what for? He described the ways he felt sorry. What I want to leave you with was my reply to him. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for because he answered the call in what was the darkest moment in my life. I told him that he was a hero regardless because it takes a special person to answer calls like that. You are a hero to people Pat. No one can ever take that away from you. I understand the process you're going through as I've been there myself and like you I still struggle with it when no one is looking. You aren't alone in this. I hope your healing process continues on and you can regain the happiness in this beautiful life. You'll always be a hero to those people, because you were there when the call came Best wishes Roger Chamberlain

Ruth, your letter moved me to tears. Once upon a time I was very closed off about the LGBT community but over a course of several years, I turned my fear into understanding and I actively stand with the community for their equal rights because it is the right thing to do.