6 NFL Players Who Went From Rags to Riches
Many of us could only dream of the wealth and fame that so many NFL players enjoy. From multi-million dollar contracts to luxurious homes and cars, to remote island vacations and getaways. But for many NFL players, getting to the NFL and making those millions required grit, perseverance, and just a little bit of luck.
Below, we are going to review the top 10 NFL players who went from rags to riches. These NFL players grew up poor, with some being homeless, before they were given the opportunity of a lifetime. And for these players in particular, nothing has come easy, whether on or off the gridiron.
Born on January 28, 1977, Daunte Culpepper is a former NFL quarterback who played in the league for 11 seasons. Primarily playing for the Minnesota Vikings, he played college football at UCF and was selected in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Vikings.
However, before making it to the NFL, Culpepper was born to a single mother, Barbara Henderson, the sister of former NFL linebacker Thomas Henderson. In fact, she was pregnant with Daunte while serving time for armed robbery.
When he was born, Daunte would be adopted by Emma Lewis Culpepper, who happened to work at the same correctional facility where he mother was being held. Raised as one of more than 15 children, Daunte and the family lived in Ocala, Florida.
Born on March 9, 1998, Najee Harris is a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Having player college football at the University of Alabama, he would be selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Living with his mother and four siblings, Harris grew up in several troubled neighborhoods. In fact, he and the family briefly lived in a homeless shelter before moving to Antioch.
However, while at Antioch, Harris played football for the Antioch High School team and in 2014, as a sophomore, he rushed for 2,263 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a junior, he would have 2,744 rushing yards with 36 touchdowns and he would improve as a senior to 2,776 rushing yards with 34 touchdowns.
Lamar Demeatrice Jackson Jr. was born on January 7, 1997 and is an NFL quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. Having played college football for Louisville, he would win the Heisman Trophy during his sophomore year and would be selected by the Ravens as the final first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Born to Felicia Jones and Lamar Jackson Sr., he would grow up in an economically distressed section of Pompano Beach, Florida. When he was eight years old, both his father and his grandmother died on the same day, leaving his mother to raise him and his siblings alone.
Javon Kinlaw was born on October 3, 1997 and is a Trinidadian American defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers. He played college football at South Carolina and was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
After immigrating from Trinidad and Tobago to the United States with his mother and two siblings, Kinlaw spent parts of his childhood homeless while living in Washington, D.C.
Much has been written on Michael Oher, the subject of the hit movie The Blind Side. Born on May 28, 1986, Oher was an offensive tackle who played for eight seasons in the NFL. Primarily playing for the Baltimore Ravens, Oher was drafted by the Ravens in the first round in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, he is one of 12 children to Denise Oher. his mother suffered from both alcoholism and crack cocaine addiction. Meanwhile, his father, Michael Jerome Williams, was frequently in prison.
As a child, Oher received little time, attention, or discipline from either parent. Having to repeat both the first and second grades, he would attend eleven different schools during his first nine years as a student.
At the age of seven, Michael would be placed in foster care and alternated between living in various foster homes and periods of homelessness.
Tamba Hali was born on November 3, 1983 and is a former linebacker in the NFL. He played college football at Pennsylvania State University. During his time in college, he earned All-American honors and would be drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
However, before emigrating to the United States, Hali was born in Gbarnga, Liberia. He would be sent to the United States at just the age of 10 to escape the civil war-torn Liberia. Working to make it to the NFL while in America, Hali believed that professional sports were his only hope for bringing his mother to America, after not seeing her for over 12 years.