From Destrehan to Destiny
Ed Reed is an athlete who personifies excellence both on and off the field. Throughout his illustrious football career, he’s been a champ, breaking records and winning a national title in college and then as a professional, winning the Super Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens.
It is a long way from his early beginnings in Destrehan, LA., as today he joins the ranks of the greats of the NFL recently being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Building A Winning Team
Ed Reed is one who has chosen to be a role model and an inspiration to future generations. This spirit comes from his growing up in a close-knit family and community where he was encouraged to excel. Many of those who played a part in shaping his greatness were on hand in Canton for the induction ceremony.
Steven Murdock Sr., who grew up next door to Reed and was one of his extended family members and mentors growing up. “Our connection runs deep; he grew up one house away from my family’s house. His dad and my older brother grew up together,” he says while in Canton awaiting Reed’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “Coming up he was like a little brother to me and seeing him become the man he is today makes me proud.”
Lawrence Haynes III also grew up with Reed and his family and was like a big brother to him as well. He says that as a youngster Ed saw them doing things with their lives related to sports that took them out of the neighborhood and was inspired by them. He also made the trip to Canton. With pride beaming from his voice he says, “We knew he was special it is not surprising to see him reach this level of greatness. Early on he saw some of us including his Uncle Tim Reed go off to college, we all got scholarships and Ed saw us go away and do things outside of the neighborhood and it inspired him to want to do something more.”
Making a Difference
Ed Reed is more than just an athlete, he’s used his visibility to have a platform to speak on various social issues. During his time in Canton, Reed used his wardrobe to send a message about issues of social justice, one day wearing a T-shirt bearing the faces of young Black people killed in police-related or racial incidents.
He also used his time during his induction ceremony to speak about the recent mass shooting in El Paso. He was emotional, compassionate and thoughtful and centered on solutions to many of the ills of society and the importance living a life of serving others.
“You know mental illness is one of the biggest problems in our world,” Reed said. “It really kills. So, I’ve got to say prayers to the families that have experienced the mass shootings the last couple of days. Just in general across this country, it’s something we really need to address.”
Building a Field of Dreams and Inspiring the Next Generation
Through his foundation Reed puts his money where his mouth is by giving back in New Orleans, Destrehan and Baltimore. Recently, he took a piece of land in his old neighborhood he and his friends played on and made it a park for the young people of St. Rose.
Haynes speaks of this great gesture by his friend, “Ed has made a career out of giving back. In St. Rose where we all started in an area behind our house called it the park, now he’s made it an official park. It’s what we needed when we were kids this is a great thing for our community.”
Ed Reed’s life has been a success on many levels and positive proof that a rose can grow out of concrete. And with the right team around giving encouragement and support you can be a champion in life.
A sentiment that’s expressed by Haynes, “Ed embodies what someone if their talents are nurtured and they have positive people in their lives. It shows it doesn’t matter where you start and that anyone can achieve greatness. Ed’s not only achieved greatness on the field, but off it by giving back and serving others. I am really glad to be here sharing in this special moment with my little brother Ed Reed, who is an example of the best that is in all of us.”
Reed in his Hall of Fame Speech summed up his feeling about how anyone can become a champion and become great, “Everyone has their own greatness. Whether you reach your own greatness depends on your environment, your structure, the company you keep and your attitude.”
Continuing he said, “There will be good and bad, right and wrong. Your reaction of choice, good or bad, has consequences that affect you and those around you. No matter what, encourage those around you and yourself. I stayed encouraged and no matter what, I was focused. I tell you, each one of you, stay encouraged. Encourage each other. Help somebody. We should. We’re supposed to. That’s what being a human is about, leaving this place better than we got it.”