Former pro football player brings motivational message to Baldwin schools

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 2/12/19

ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Keith Davis went from being in a broken home to playing on some of the biggest stages in the world as a college and professional football player.

When he was 4-years-old, …

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Former pro football player brings motivational message to Baldwin schools

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ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Keith Davis went from being in a broken home to playing on some of the biggest stages in the world as a college and professional football player.

When he was 4-years-old, Davis says, his father committed suicide and his mother became an alcoholic, bouncing from one boyfriend to another, while the young Davis went from one school to another.

“By the time I was 15, I had already been in 19 different schools,” he said, recalling a time when he wanted to quit.

“I was taking a test and I could hear the sound all around me,” he said, mimicking the noise of other students breezing through the answers and turning pages of their tests on their desks. “All I could answer was my name.”

It was there that a teacher sat him down and said something to him that changed his life.

“He said, ‘You don’t have to be great to get started, you just have to start wherever you are,’” said Davis. “The difference between winners and losers is that winners see where they are going, while losers only see what they are going through.”

With that motivation, Davis began to succeed. He would win a state championship at Santa Monica (California) High School and go on to earn a scholarship at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

At USC, he would earn two National Championship rings as the team’s leading tackler, while earning a degree in business finance with the team’s highest grade-point average. From there he would sign a contract with the NFL’s New York Giants and while his professional career would be cut short by a knee injury, it would pave the way for Davis to start his own company as an educator and motivational speaker, having spoken in over 9,000 schools, universities and corporations, traveling to more than 50 countries including Australia, India, Japan, England, Germany, Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Egypt, Niger, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

This past week, Davis, along with fellow speaker Jamar Reid, spoke to eight high schools in the Baldwin County Public School system, including Baldwin County High, Robertsdale High and Elberta High on Monday, Spanish Fort, Daphne and Fairhope on Tuesday, Foley and Gulf Shores on Wednesday.

The presentation was made possible by a partnership with the Baldwin County Community Alliance, the Jennifer Claire Moore Foundation and Baldwin County Public Schools.

At Robertsdale High on Monday, Davis talked to students about making the right decisions and three words that will change their lives.

“The most important word that will keep you on track in life is the word ‘dream,’” he said. “The other two words are ‘choices’ and ‘voices’ because the choices you make to achieve your dream come from listening to the right voices.”

As a visual aide, Davis brought female students from the audience, bringing them forward to represent little dreamers and average-size dreamers.

“Just because you are small doesn’t mean that your dream is small,” he said.

Then he asked for three large male students to be brought from the audience, then finally one final dreamer, Principal Joe Sharp who, at 6-foot-7, played defensive line at Robertsdale and the University of Southern Mississippi.

“This is what I like to call the ‘big ole dream,’” he said.

One by one, Davis brought the students forward, putting them on Reid back while he did pushups. Finally, he brought forward Sharp, who got on Reid’s back, along with other students.

“This is what you’d call the ‘unlimited dream,’ or ‘buffet dream,’” he said.

Finally, Reid finished the talk, telling the students of growing up dyslexic and being told by teachers and even his own mother that he would never amount to anything.

“I was put into a separate class and told that I was below average. I told myself that I was going to be beyond great and I worked hard to achieve my dreams,” he said. “It’s not the size of the dreamer that matters but the size of the dream you have inside of you.”