James Anderson is an NFL linebacker and a very talented guy. He was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina and raised in Chesapeake, Virginia. He is brainy, brawny, artistic, and charitable to boot. He is a scholar, athlete, and all around great guy. Anderson was drafted in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft with the 88th pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2006. He has also played for the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, and most recently, Dallas Cowboys. We recently got to know the uber talented brainiac and amazing athlete, as we chatted the night away with him.
AM: What made you decide to go into football?
JA: I played a number of sports and just naturally fell into football, but I was always competitive, enjoyed a good pick up game of basketball, and most of the kids in my neighborhood were into some kind of sport. In fact, there are three or four guys in the NFL from my neighborhood.
AM: Did you always have dreams of being a football player?
JA: No, I wouldn’t say that I’ve always dreamed about being a football player. That was always something I was just naturally good at, and I had the size for being a good defensive player. That is how it happened.
AM: What do you do to prepare fully for a game?
JA: I don’t have too many rituals when I am preparing for a game. The only thing that I do without fail is pray with my father. Whether I’m on the tour bus or on the field or in the locker room, I always make sure I pray with my father. Most of my work is done way before the game starts. I generally love just getting ready for the game. I just have to make sure that my body is in top physical condition during the week and that is the most important thing in getting ready for game.
AM: What are the obstacles you had to overcome to get to where you are today?
JA: There have been lots of obstacles that I’ve had to experience. I feel like that has made me a better player and a better man. The obstacles I faced most is wanting to quit a certain sport. That was a huge obstacle, but my father would never let me quit something. He always instilled in me that I had to do my best no matter what.
AM: You are known to be a scholar in the classroom and a stellar athlete on the field. Why was it so important to do well in school?
JA: While growing up, my parents always emphasized the importance of education. My mother was a teacher so she always instilled the value of education to me at a very young age. Bringing home a grade of C was just not an option. They really cracked the whip on me to keep my grades up and that made me very disciplined in my approach to school.
AM: What message would you like to give the youth today about the importance of education?
JA: I would like to tell the youth of today that getting an education is very important. In fact, you cannot play football in college or on a professional level without getting a good education. It is so important to have knowledge which will help you both on and off the field.
AM: Who inspired you to become a football player?
JA: Well, there was no one that really inspired me to be a football player. The one thing that I will say is that my father would not allow me to be mediocre, so he always inspired me to be the best football player I can be. He would not let me settle for being just OK.
AM: What are some of the things you do to get through the hard days?
JA: I just knew I had to persevere and had a good and supportive family, and goals and dreams to get me through the hard days. When you have goals and dreams, you have a purpose and that is the sole reason for getting up and doing your best no matter what.
AM: What charities you are most passionate about, and why?
JA: I have partnered with professional tennis player Serena Williams in a charity called Driving Force Giving Circle which gives grants to organizations that promote achievement for minorities. I have also partnered with Scholastic to promote Read Like a Pro. I also have my own organization called the James Anderson Foundation.
AM: Any charity events coming up that you are excited about? Any other projects?
JA: Serena Williams is hosting a 5K run (The Serena Williams Live Ultimate Run South Beach) later this year. There are always new developments and events happening so I am very excited about all these new opportunities to help the community and give back.
AM: Is there any message that you want to give the youth and general public of today about life in general?
JA: Yes, I want to encourage people to always do their very best no matter what. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are because you should really believe in yourself and know yourself and what you’re capable of doing.