“Patience is Bitter but it’s Fruit is Sweet” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Local five star recruit wide-receiver Calvin Ridley drafted in the first round by Atlanta Falcons (Photo’s credit Ron Lyons)
By Byler Henry
On April 26 live from Dallas, Texas the annual first round NFL Draft took place and dreams have come true. One such dream was Calvin Ridley who grew up in the inner-city of Fort Lauderdale. Calvin had a rough upbringing, spent much of his youth in the foster care system (along with his three younger brothers) after his father (Colin) was deported to Guyana and his mother (Kay Daniels) dealt with personal issues.
Imagine you have worked hard perfecting a craft, and you are being recognized for it. All the hard work, hours of practice, blood, sweat, and tears are paying off. Here in Fort Lauderdale, the hometown five-star wide receiver recruit out of high school Calvin Ridley anxiously awaited to hear what team he would be playing for. The tent was setup, the lights were bright, and the TV’s were highlighting the moment in Lincoln Park, the area where he grew up. There were also crowds gathered outside the guardrails who were just as anxious, waiting for the announcement.
With every passing draft pick, you can feel the anticipation building from inside and outside the tent. The closer it got towards the middle of the first round, the more anxious they became. The excitement really built up when the Cowboys were on the clock, and the Dez tweet flashed across the screen. Calvin got the stamp of approval from Dez, that the Cowboys should draft him if they were looking for a wide receiver. The crowd began to really get exciting, hoping that he would be heading to Dallas. You could cut the tension with a knife when commissioner Roger Goodell stepped up to the podium, it became so quiet you could hear a pen drop. You could hear the loud sighs when he was not selected. The Panthers and Ravens selection went the same way. Finally, the Falcons were up with the 26th pick, loud cheers and sounds of excitement erupted when the Falcons selected him. “It was amazing,” Ridley said about receiving the Falcons’ call. “I’m very excited that the Falcons gave me an opportunity to come in.” How exciting is it to go to such a good situation? A future Hall of Fame quarterback throwing you passes, with another stud Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones that you could learn from, another talented receiver in Mohamed Sanu, with a one two punch running back combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and a good defense on the other end of the ball. “I’m going to prove a lot of people wrong,” Ridley said. “I’m very excited to be coming there with Julio. I know that I’m going to learn a lot from him and become a better player and a wide receiver. I’m just very, very happy to be in their organization.” There were reporters saying DJ Moore should be the top choice for the receiver position. Even though he waited towards the end of the first round, he is going to a good situation.
Some of those who attended the draft, felt the same way, and those who witnessed got to see a dream coming true. Ray was one of those in attendance who also said that “the kids who were there, witnessed that anything is possible.” It must mean a lot to the kids out there, seeing someone have a special event in the inner city. Eric, another witness, also seems to believe the kids had a chance to see something special, and he also believes the park could use more events for the kids. “I would like to see more basketball tournaments for the kids,” he says “ They just come out to the parks with their basketballs”. Although the park is open and has the courts available, why not have a hosted event for them to showcase their talents. Events like that could encourage more kids to come out and direct their energy towards a positive direction. Give them something to do, so they’ll keep their minds focused and not be idle. It is easy to overlook what impact this event can have on the younger crowd who witnessed, but we must take heed and notice how something can have a positive effect on someone or people.