By John Philip Wyllie
Stellar San Diego Chargers linebacker, Donnie Edwards, doesn’t like to dwell on the past, but that doesn’t mean that he has forgotten his roots. Growing up in one of the rougher sections of National City as one of nine children to a Hispanic mother and an African-American father, Edward’s childhood was one of poverty, struggle and desperation. Abandoned by his father, Edwards had to grow up in a hurry and learn to fend for himself. His rags to riches story has been told and retold many times. It is a testament to what can be accomplished through hard work, determination and an iron will. Not content to simply lift himself out of poverty, Edwards has become involved in countless projects and causes aimed at helping those around him and the community that spawned him.
“The area where I am from is probably 70 to 80% Hispanic right now. My roots are there and I am always down there either at the schools, the Boys and Girls Clubs or the Boy Scouts. I am always trying to get involved to help those kids out of situations that are lacking so that I can help them make the best of their lives.”
Edwards has been as relentless in helping area youth as he has been on the field in tracking down ball carriers. His latest pet project will soon benefit students from one end of the county to the other. It’s called “Jump for Life”.
“I just created this program called “Jump for Life” which is an after school program to help combat childhood obesity,” Edwards said following Tuesday’s practice. “It creates more awareness about health, nutrition and setting goals for kids starting at a young age. We’ll be kicking this off with a pilot program next month and I am really excited about it,” Edwards said.
On the field, Edwards has been slowed by an ankle injury. As a result, he has been prevented recently from doing contact work, but it hasn’t completely stopped him from practicing.
“I am taking it day by day. The ankle is definitely still sore and swollen, but I just have to work through it. I want to get some full game speed in on Sunday (when the Chargers host the St. Louis Rams at the “Q”). I just want to get out there and play football. That is what we do for a living and it is difficult when you are not really healthy. I want to get out there and get the feel of things.”
As his teammates headed to the showers on Tuesday, Edwards stayed behind and worked on his catching skills with the help of a ball machine. Notching a team-high five interceptions last season was no accident. Edwards takes pride in his ability to provide turnovers. The same kind of pride he takes in helping people within his community.
“I do a lot of stuff in the community because it makes a difference. I was a kid here in National City and people used to come and help me out. Now I am just returning the favor. I tell them if you set a goal and go after it you can achieve anything you want to achieve.”