To all the men and women that serve our country: Thank you.
Most people think of the military as just the men and women in uniform, but it has a lot do with the families. The kids have to go through a lot. I would know. I grew up in a military household.
Both of my parents had 20-year careers in the military. My mom retired as a First Sergeant and my dad as a Command Sergeant Major.
But I love the fact that I was raised in that environment. I wouldn’t know what a suburban childhood is like, but I think a military upbringing is a little more strict. Your parents are a part of that lifestyle and they bring it home. I think it’s good to have that order and discipline growing up, and understanding that life isn’t just doing what you want. You have to have some order and discipline to get things going.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the frequent change helped shape my adulthood. Before I was 18, I lived in Alaska, Texas, South Carolina, St. Croix and moved back to South Carolina. That may sound like a lot, but I just went with the flow. We just kind of went with it and understood our parents were in the military. We had friends whose parents were also in the military, so it was kind of the norm.
Moving five times before the end of the high school helped me as a professional. Being in the NFL, for the most part, you’re going to move from team to team, city to city. I’m on my fifth team in eight years, but I’m used to the change.
Through all of the moving I did growing up, I developed a love for travel. I’ve been to 20 countries so far in my life. My goal was to hit all seven continents before I turned 30 and I was able to do that. Yes, I’ve been to Antarctica. Yes, it’s cold. I’ve been bungee jumping in South Africa with Larry Fitzgerald, my travel buddy. I’ve been to a couple countries in Europe. I met my fiancée on a trip to Australia, which ended up being my favorite trip (shocker).
I love being able to see how other people live and experience different cultures, see some different things and kind of get away from the norm of doing the same thing all the time.
All of this comes back to my background, which is why I think what the NFL is doing is great. Showing the appreciation of what the military does for our country means a lot to me.
For as long as I live, the military will always be a part of my life. My parents both had 20-year careers in the Army and I went to The Citadel. I think everyone can take a little bit from the military and what sacrifices their families make for our country to be safe.
Remember: It’s not just one or two people that are affected by the military, it’s their whole family.