A two time Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee (won in 2010) and 2011 Pro Bowl alternate, Lorenzo Alexander is a guy I’ve admired ever since he tackled without his helmet in a 2007 preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Not that I condone tackling without a helmet, but that play introduced the Washington Redskins to a gutsy, determined, and committed player that the team desperately needed.
Since then, Alexander has become one of Washington’s main leaders and without a doubt the team’s and possibly the league’s most versatile player, hence the nickname “One Man Gang.” Alexander has played all over the field – offensive line, tight end, defensive line, outside linebacker, and this year he’s transitioning to inside linebacker. He’s been a class act for the Redskins, but even more so a great addition to the community.
Lorenzo Alexander has also blessed the Greater Washington DC area by the off-field work he’s involved in. This guy is committed to excellence on and off the field, and has dabbled in various programs, along with his own, to make a difference in the community. Alexander is a spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation, has an annual charity bike ride called “Ride to Provide” along with the W&OD trail, and has an outstanding foundation called “ACES.”
ProPlayerInsiders had the opportunity to catch up with Alexander and learn more about his charity and off the field work.
PPI: Thanks for allowing us to ask you a few questions. On the field you’re nicknamed – “One Man Gang” for your versatility. Off the field your hard work continues by motivating youth and attempting to build a positive foundation in their lives. Can you tell us what the ACES Foundation is all about and what motivated you to start this program?
LA: The ACES Foundation Mission is to support youth through emphasizing self Accountability, taking pride in our Community, striving for Educational excellence while promoting a healthy mind and body through Sports. I was motivated to start the program because I realized the platform God has blessed me with, which would be pointless unless I used it to serve others, especially since I was only successful in the first place because people sacrificed and poured into me as a youth growing up in the inner city.
PPI: In your experience being around many youth, what have you found to be a common issue that keeps them from pursuing a higher education and doing positive things? How has the foundation helped those children?
LA: The most common issues surrounding young people, especially those in the inner city, is the lack of support and access to information that will place them on the right track to obtain their dreams and goals. We have camp and events throughout the year where we try to educate young kids about what really matters in life and give them tools and information that will allow them to do whatever their passions are. The most important piece in being a part of their support system is challenging and holding them accountable for what they want out of life.
PPI: There are various ways to teach and motivate youth. Some kids react differently to certain tactics. How do you approach communicating with the children involved in your program?
LA: I firmly believe every child or young adult is different and as their mentor, teacher or coach, it’s up to me to figure out what each child responds well to. However, whatever method being used needs to be communicated and reinforced with respect, love and realness at its foundation.
PPI: What has your foundation accomplished thus far and what are some of the future plans you have for the program?
LA: Thus far we have been able to support youth in several different ways through our back to school event where we provide students with $100 worth of school supplies in partnership with Target, life skills workshops, college scholarships and free youth camps. This year we plan to implement our Readers are Leaders programs in 3rd through 5th grade classes in Virginia, Maryland and DC, which will eventually grow to middle school and high school mentoring programs. And lastly, we are looking to partner with SPAAT, a foundation in my hometown of Oakland to continue to help low income inner city student-athletes gain access and eligibility to athletic scholarships.
PPI: Can you tell us a little about your childhood and who influenced you to be the person you are today?
LA: I was raised in a single parent home by my mother and I cannot say enough about how well she did as a parent, making sure I understood that education and being respectful were the most important things, above all else. Living in the inner city where many of my cousins and friends ended up selling drugs and/or in jail, my mother had additional help because I believe a woman can only teach a man so much. My uncle Steve Moore, my mother’s brother, stepped into the father role and did a great job of displaying what sacrifice, hard work, dedication and perseverance looked like. If it was not for those two, I could easily be behind bars right now.
PPI: The other day Robert Griffin III asked an intriguing question on Twitter to several of his teammates, including you. The question was “Why do you grind? Why do you fight back? #KnowYourWhy.” What’s your response to “Know your why?”
LA: There is so much that goes into the question that I couldn’t answer it in just 140 characters. So I came up with my top 5 reason list. People love list, right?
1: God has blessed me with enormous talent and ability to play the game of football, speak well and lead, and it would be stupid of me not cultivate and nurture my gift.
2: I have a wife and three children to support and if daddy is not working there is no food, no house, no college. I want my children not to have to worry about anything and playing this game gives the ability to create that environment for them and my wife.
3: I represent more than just myself but my entire family both the Alexander and Moore name. People like my uncle and mother sacrificed for me to have the opportunity to be in the NFL, so I do it to honor them.
4: I love the guys on my team; some like brothers. I do not want to be the guy that lets them down because I decided other things were more important.
5: Lastly, I love playing this game and competing at a high level. I want to be considered one of the best whenever I’m on the field. I want the other team to have to worry about where #97 is lining up.
PPI: Please inform anyone interested in how they can sign up for your future events, volunteer, or donate:
LA: To donate or get involved you can always go onto our website lorenzoalexander.org and click on the donate button, or click on the contact us. Also follow me on twitter @onemangang97 or @aces_foundation
By Emmanual Benton