From a very young age each person will have a dream in their head. The vision is clear of what they would like to do in their life. The only problem is there will always be obstacles getting in the way. With each obstacle getting bigger and harder to face as you get older, it is easier to just give up. The only person that can throw in the towel is the individual himself. Some will be quick to give up and throw in the towel, while others will take the towel and use it as a jump rope over every obstacle they face along the way. Here is the story of many trials and tribulations that LaKendrick Ross had to face, yet he was determined to fulfill his dream.
Ross was born on May 1, 1993 in Portsmouth, Virginia. At the beginning of his life he had six brothers and two sisters. His father wasn’t around and his mother Loretta was on disability. Loretta was a very strong woman and even though she was disabled she gave the best she could for Ross.
At the age of 52 years old, Ross’s mother Loretta died of a heart attack. Ross was only 12 years old at that time. After her death, nobody really wanted to take care of Ross. Nobody showed him true love but his coach. Ross ended up living in a total of 10 group homes.
Ross attended Norcom High School where basketball was his sport. Ross started to dunk a basketball here and there by his sophomore year. The craft became very easy through his junior year. Yet, football ultimately was his escape from dealing with his mother’s passing, his father never being around, and going in and out of numerous group homes.
Football was a big adventure to him. At the age of 10, he began to play football in the back yard and by his senior year of High School he was playing organized football. In a matter of just one year, Ross won All-State. He had 16 sacks, 58 tackles, and 4 fumble recoveries as a nose tackle. When I asked Ross about what he loved most about being a nose tackle, he said “Sacking the quarterback and hitting running backs. I love making stops for losses. I love being the anchor with the linebacker on defense.”
Numerous schools tried to recruit Ross after high school, and it truly made him proud. Yet with all good things that happened in his life, there always seemed to be some negative. Due to academic reasons, Ross was not able to attend Morgan State College. In 2012, Ross attended Virginia University of Lynchburg. As a freshman at Lynchburg, he was a wrecking force again. Any time Ross put on his helmet and uniform, standing at 6-5 and weighing 360 pounds, he showed how to put fear into the defense.
The haunting task was his grades again in 2013, and due to academics he was ineligible to play during the 2013 season. The dream he envisioned while growing up, seemed to be so far from reality.
While living in his car, thinking he would someday attend college again, Ross would always day dream of playing in the National Football League. After the 2014 draft was over, a phone call was placed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Ross’ ex-teammate Keith Lewis who attended Virginia University of Lynchburg. This hit Ross that he could maybe get that shot.
July 7th 2014 was Ross’ Pro Day at his old stomping grounds, Norcom High School. In front of 11 National Football Scouts, Ross tried to show high potential. Ross’ fastest time of running a 40 yard dash is 4.9 seconds and on Pro Day he was clocked at around 5.4 – 5.5 seconds. Ross’ wing span is 83.5 inches and he ran a 1.81 second unofficial 10 yard split.
My opinion of the Pro day is that it is just like the NFL combine. Players can look good or bad during the combine or Pro Day, but don’t have one ounce of fight in them on Sundays. I always say if you put me on a football field and tell me to run a 40 yard dash, I will run it in 5.9 seconds, but if you put three pit bulls behind me I will run it in 5.2. Tapes and scouts can determine what they like, but it seems when Ross puts on the uniform he becomes a beast! That is what I would want on game day.
If you want to see the man under the uniform you have to see what he has been through in his life. Ross could have said I hate life and I am going to quit trying to pursue my dream. Yet every time lighting and thunder has hit his life, he stood tall at 6-5 and stood his ground at 360 pounds and put a smile on his face and stepped over his obstacles.
If anything, on or off the field we all should be rooting for Ross for the supplemental draft on July 10th at 1pm Eastern time. We should be happy for the man he truly became. Football wasn’t his escape, it is his escape. What is yours when times hit you hard in your daily life? I know for each person the answer is different. If you learned anything from reading this article, I hope it was that under the uniform is a man named LaKendrick Ross who pursued his career and dreams despite all that life has thrown at him. If he can do that through all of his life’s trials and tribulations, why can’t you and I?