This afternoon, pro football prospect LaMichael James surprised students at Liberty-Eylau High School, his alma mater in Texarkana, Texas, with tools for achieving their best on the field and in life. James and representatives from SKLZ, the athletic training company for which he is a brand ambassador, shared how hard work and dedication can lead to academic and athletic successes. In addition to the words of encouragement, James donated $5,000 of SKLZ training equipment to the Liberty-Eylau High School to help its student athletes elevate their athleticism.
"When you're a kid from a small town, it can be hard to imagine greatness in your future," said James. "But being from a small town doesn't make you small, you just might have to work harder to get what you want. I want these kids to know that if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams regardless of the things that might seem to be in your way."
As a student at Liberty-Eylau, James experienced firsthand how a lack of community resources can impact the support high school kids need to get ahead. Determined to overcome the odds, James trained hard to earn a spot on the University of Oregon football team, where he became the school's career-rushing leader and set another record for a season-high 1,805 rushing yards in 2011. He's currently slated as a top pro football pick for the draft next month.
Last month, James announced that he joined the SKLZ team as a brand ambassador to help athletes gain an understanding about the company's training products and how to use them, as well as evangelize the SKLZ brand.
"True athletes, the ones who make it to the highest levels, learn to overcome the toughest obstacles," says John Sarkisian, CEO at SKLZ. "LaMichael's commitment to training and his mental toughness have helped him to beat the odds. It's that work ethic that makes him an ideal ambassador for our brand and a true role model for these kids."
More than 200 students gathered for the 40-minute afterschool assembly, which included a sneak peak at a SKLZ documentary series called LaMichael James: Road to the Pros. James also gifted to the school $5,000 worth of SKLZ training equipment to give athletes an opportunity to excel in their sports. The training equipment includes ladders, hurdles, speed chutes, weighted vests, medicine balls and more. This appearance came after a similar stop earlier in the month at Willamette High School in near the University of Oregon.