Maurice Clarett, former Ohio State University football player, shared his story of how he was able to surmount many personal failures when he spoke at Cornerstone United Methodist Church (UMC) on Sunday. Clarett’s story is living proof that resiliency is possible to the person who gets back up and moves on.
Clarett, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, shared his story at Cornerstone UMC to at two services in an person to person interview format with Senior Pastor of the church, Tim Roth. Clarett provided a poignant account of the choices which he made during the course of his life from childhood to college, and adulthood that led to his demise.
As a young teen, Clarett said early of how he encountered trouble with the law committed two acts of robbery. He spoke of how the prevalence of crime and the socioeconomic state of Youngstown made a negative impact upon his life. He said emulating acts of crime was perceived as cool.
“It influences your lifestyle, your way of thinking which was shaped from that reality with a lot of crime and violence,” Clarett said. “As a kid those things were attractive to me, I thought that was how you gain respect or you had some sort of empowerment throughout the neighborhood.”
Clarett said he became more involved with sports after breaking into a person’s home, and then spending time in a juvenile facility for three days.
“It didn’t really stick with me then. Actually, after I came home I was praised by most of my friends for doing that, and then a month later I got into an altercation at a skating rink, and then the third time I was arrested for breaking into someone’s home,” Clarett said.
It was after that time that Clarett eventually began to excel in football, and made the varsity team, and later recruited by OSU.
“I go out there, I have success early on, and it was like a roller coaster, as a team, we kept on doing everything right. We kept on winning the games, but at the same time there was another life being birthed off of the field,” Clarett said. “Prior to college I never did drink, do drugs or partied from that standpoint, but when the success on the football field came all of the partying and hanging out became a part of my life, and I didn’t realize how much it would affect me years down the road. From a football standpoint it was every kids dream, to go out there and beat every team and then off to the National Championship, and we won that, but it was all of the bad habits I was starting, all of the partying, and drinking and drugging.”
Clarett said he continued to hang around friends from his childhood in Youngstown whose lives were not headed in a positive direction.
“Like everything else, you don’t realize when you get into the athletic space that you have to separate yourself from people who you grew up with,” Clarett said. “In my mind as an 18, 19 year old kid, these were just my friends that I grew up with. I couldn’t understand the responsibilities that I had at Ohio State.
Though after leaving OSU he was eventually drafted to the Denver Broncos, Clarett was not prepared for the grand opportunity he was given, and was not willing to put the time, work and effort that it took to be a useful part of the Broncos team. He shared of how he resisted the assistance offered to him to help him develop as a professional football player, and was eventually cut from the Denver Broncos team.
From there, Clarett disclosed how his life continued to take a series of terrible turns, and he would eventually end up in prison. It was in prison that Clarett said he was able to confront himself, take advantage of opportunities, and redirect his life onto a positive path. Clarett founded an non-profit organization called, ‘The Red Zone,’ which is instrumental in providing tools and resources to help to navigate young people in a positive direction. Clarett travels across the country, now a professional public speaker, entrepreneur, and consultant.
Roth, said he was impressed with Clarett’s story as well as his character.
“I thought he was so genuine and so sincere, and he really cares,” Roth said. “That was evident by the way he took time to talk to people. I was really impressed. It shows that God is the God of a second chance, and he didn’t give up on him, and he (Clarett) didn’t quit. He had some pretty huge failures but he didn’t give up.”
Roth said he hopes to have Clarett back to speak again at Cornerstone UMC to their Rejoicing In Recovery addiction recovery group.
For more information regarding Clarett, and more of his present day endeavors and accomplishments, visit his website at: www.mauriceclarettonline.com.
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.