I Wouldn’t Be The Person I Am Today If It Weren’t For Robert Griffin III

His career appears to be over, but he will always be my idol.

2011 was a crucial year in my life, a college Freshman at the time, my mindset was fueled by “The Warm Up” J. Cole, a young Lupe Fiasco, and Pre ”Bruh WTF” Kanye. At this point of my life I had already grown accustomed to battling questions of me not being “black enough,” and inquiries on where my “swag” was, but I had no validation as to why I didn’t quite identify with my peers. At a certain point simply feeling a certain way just because you feel like it just doesn’t cut it. I needed a validation. Something or someone to look up to who looked like me and who were simply being themselves.

It was around the fall of that year when I noticed the lanky quarterback for Baylor University. His passing prowess was just as dazzling as his ability to make defenders look silly; he could throw over, under, in-between coverages. And if defenses laid back he'd use his legs to make them pay. But more impressive to me, he rocked the braids like a badge of honor, because he liked them.

I was never anywhere close the level of athlete that was, and is, Robert Griffin III. Nor do I possess enough hair for braids (my receding hairline barely justifies a fade at this point). It was his character and personality that caught my attention at such a pivotal part of my life.

Comparisons to Michael Vick added fuel to the national debate on who the best college football quarterback that year was, RG3 or Stanford University’s Andrew Luck. Sure enough the Junior bested Luck for College Football’s most prestigious award, The Heisman Trophy. But it wasn’t that he, a black man, managed to come out on top against the competition at a position historically held by mostly white men that made him a star. It was that he, a black man, managed to come out on top against the competition in a position historically held by mostly white men, while being himself that made the persona that is RG3 a symbol and an icon to so many.

The man rocked Super Man socks (cape included!) to the Heisman Ceremony. I have a pair of the same socks in my collection right now. Do you know the level of self confidence a grown man has to have to wear some socks like that in public?

Nevertheless, as he did on the evening of his Heisman award ceremony, RG3 continued(s) to stay true to himself. So unapologetic about the way he carries himself, the product of a military household kept the braids, a subject of ridicule throughout his childhood. He kept the compression sleeve on the left arm, right arm naked. “Business on the right arm, party on the left.”

His personality wasn’t appreciated by everyone, however. He was publicly questioned for lack of leadership and his relationships in the locker room. Once even being referred to as a “cornball brotha” by a certain black sports pundit who couldn’t shake his preconceived idea of what a black athlete should be.

Maybe he is a Republican. I honestly don’t care. He’s done so much for so many young kids, who need validation to be themselves, that I hope he makes a return to the field. Where we can all see him be himself again.

And so, as he may be a current afterthought to the sporting world, I tip my hat to man, the myth, the legend that is RG3, Robert Griffin III. Thank you.