Mario Addison speaks at the "Man to Man" event.(
He may have played in the Super Bowl, but the NFL’s Mario Addison told a group of Birmingham man that life is about more than athletic achievement.
Addison, who grew up in North Birmingham Homes, spoke to almost 200 people this week as a part of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District’s "Man to Man" event.
Addison will also host a football camp for HABD youth this summer.
The program at the Smithfield Community Center brought together 180 men of all ages participating in this summer’s HABD summer camp. Addison, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, urged the young men to seek and embrace the positive examples that are already present in their daily lives.
"It doesn’t always have to be your parents. There are other people," he said, motioning to the HABD staff lining the walls as examples.
Though Addison said playing in the NFL has been like "a dream come true," it’s not the only thing of importance in his life. He has had to adjust to his role as the father of an 8-year-old girl.
As a parent, Addison said he now understands that every decision he makes will impact his child.
"It ain’t all about Mario anymore," he said.
Addison told the group of teenagers and adolescents that it’s important to plan now for what they want to become in life. Athletics is not a guaranteed path to success. Even he is beginning to plan for life once his professional football career is over.
"We need more firemen, we need more teachers and lawyers, policemen," he said.
The event this week is an expansion of the annual HABD Fatherhood initiative. Activities in June are part of the national HUD initiative to promote fatherhood and positive lifestyles for men. The program this year includes outreach to younger men as well. Activities will continue throughout the summer, including a midnight basketball program.
"This was amazing. For a former resident to come back and spend time with our kids spoke volumes for me," said Cardell Davis, chairman of the HABD Board of Commissioners, who also participated in the panel discussion.
Addison ended the event with a drawing where two boys were awarded a shopping spree to Academy Sports next week.
HABD President/CEO Michael Lundy called Addison the prefect person to speak to the young men.
"The thing about his story is it’s so realistic," Lundy said. "He talked about the mentors in his life, and if it weren’t for the people in his life he would not have made it. Even with the ups and down, he still made it. The kids could identify with that."
Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. (Greg Garrisonemail@example.com)