Former New York Giants linebacker Keith Davis spoke to the cadets of Marine Military Academy Aug. 19. Davis, now a motivational speaker, told the cadets that being a male and a man are two different things.
“You were born a male, but you have to become a man,” he said. “Male is by birth, man is by choice.”
Davis told the cadets not to succumb to social pressures that will make them lose their ambition and character. It requires courage to say “no.” Courage is not always easy, but it is better than the consequences.
“There’s a high cost to low living,” Davis said.
The athlete shared with the teens how his father committed suicide when he was only four years old due to his addiction to narcotics. His mother suffered from depression and stayed in abusive relationships due to her dependence on alcohol.
No matter what the circumstances may be, Davis told the boys to always dream big and to always PUSH — Persevere Until Success Happens.
Davis, who is from the inner city of Los Angeles, said he attended 19 different schools before entering the 10th grade, and his reading skills were very poor. However, he persisted and kept his faith and was awarded a football scholarship to the University of South California. After college, he signed on with the New York Jets.
Good things can happen, but they require effort, determination and short-term sacrifices.
“You’ve got to pay a price to win,” Davis said.
He demonstrated his point with the help of his friend Isaac Tauaefa, a former football player for the University of Texas at El Paso. Tauaefa performed a push-up four times – each time with a different person on his back.
When Tauaefa easily pushed up with the 90-pound cadet, Davis said, “Little dreams need little effort.” When Tauaefa gruelingly pushed up with the 225-pound coach, Davis said, “Big dreams require a lot of effort.”
In closing, Davis also reminded the boys that real men respect women and do not demean them. He spoke proudly of his wife, who is also an athlete. Davis told the cadets he was never embarrassed to treat his beautiful, smart and talented wife with dignity and admiration in front of his peers.
“When I dated my wife, I never called her my ‘girlfriend,’” he said. “I would say, ‘That’s my queen.’”