Bridgewater Sends Powerful Message of Belief

(Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)


Social media can be a blessing and a curse.

This week, we were treated to tacky, sophomoric, bickering Twitter messages from men who hope to lead our country for the next four years.

Ugh! Their behavior caused the rational among us to roll our eyes back so far that we got a good look at our brains.

Thankfully, their tweets were out shone by a professional football player.

There’s a popular feeling that entertainers – athletes, actors, musicians, etc. – should keep their opinions to themselves.

Luckily, in a week where the Fourth-Amendment-adverse “stop and frisk” policy has again risen to the top of national discourse, Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater brought a message of hope at a time when it’s sorely needed.

On Tuesday, he posted an encouraging message to a segment of the population that is often forgotten about, unless it’s vilified. His message to young boys, based in love, is no matter the circumstances of their lives or how much external factors impact them, they have the ability to improve their lot and make a better world for themselves.

“To the young boy who woke up this morning and had to prepare yourself for the harsh realities of this world on your own because your mama job schedule is hectic. To the young boy that’s afraid to read out loud in front of class because the fear of mispronouncing word[s] is greater than the fear of hearing gun shots throughout the night. To the young boy who finds happiness in free lunch at school because that’s the only meal you will eat that day.

“To the young boy that looks forward to practice but hates when practice ends because that’s the only place you find joy in the world and once practice is over, it’s back to the struggle. To the young boy dealing with the pressure of running with his boys to do foolish things. To the young boy that’s looked upon as lame for making the right decisions. To the young boy whose path is headed straight down the road to jail or death because of the environment you live in. To the young boy that’s going to graduate high school. To the young boy that’s going to be the first of his family to graduate college.

“To the young boy that’s going to live out his dream and change the world, I believe in you.”

In a world where we’re quick to tear each other down rather than build each other up, his inspirational message quickly went viral and initiated heartfelt responses.

Bridgewater grew up in Liberty City, Fla., a poverty-stricken Miami neighborhood on the opposite side of I-95 from the world-renowned glitzy beachfront. Developed around a 753-unit housing project built in 1933, it has been described in popular media as an unsafe environment to live in and raise kids. Fifty percent of the population has some or no high school education. The median household income is $26,567, less than half of the national median of $55,322. Demographically, it’s 81.8% Black, 15.6% Latino, and 1.4% White.

Like many pockets of New Orleans and in inner cities across the country, hope and prosperity don’t venture into the neighborhood too often. Gun violence is regularly more prevalent than opportunity.

That’s why Bridgewater’s message is so important.

There is no doubt that those who live in languishing neighborhoods would move and try to improve if they could. However, it’s difficult – nearly impossible – to escape the environment when roadmaps to prosperity are seemingly nonexistent.

While not everyone is destined to become a professional athlete earning millions of dollars a year, Bridgewater’s post gives a nudge of inspiration that one can develop and use their talents to rise up. It may be a more difficult to play the long game, having to avoid peer pressure and overcome the overwhelming thought that you better get what you can today because you might not be here tomorrow, but it can be done.

That’s a message I wish those who want to be our nation’s leaders would take to heart. Things may not be the way we want them to be right now. But with love, encouragement, and support, we can build a better tomorrow, provide an example to all around us, and improve ourselves, our communities, our nation, and even the world.



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