By Lynn Okura
At just 31 years old, Vince Young is officially retired from the NFL — not where the young superstar quarterback thought he would be at this stage in his career. Though he had a promising start with a winning college record, Young’s pro football dreams didn’t pan out.
Losing his identity as an athlete hit him hard, as he explains to filmmaker Jonas Elrod on the OWN series “In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod.”
Today, Young has dug himself out of the depression and financial ruin that plagued him after leaving pro sports. He says he has a new purpose in life. In the above video, Vince volunteers at Austin Sunshine Camp, where he mentors kids and helps provide them with the tools they need to face challenges they come across in their daily lives.
“My purpose is just kids, our next generation,” Vince says. “Making sure they can live their dream, the dream that I’m living. And that’s the key of pushing that message.”
The kids are clearly happy to have him. “Vince Young!” one yells. “Come ride in a canoe with us!”
“Like our role model,” a young boy says.
As a kid who grew up in a low-income community of Houston without a father-figure in his life, Young hopes he can now be the mentor that he always wanted as a child.
“To get kids to know that it’s more than what you see in your every day life,” Young says. “You can experience this whole world as long as you take advantage of the opportunities that’s being given and what’s being taught to you.”
Working with kids is helping him heal past wounds, Young explains. Though his father was incarcerated and missed most of his childhood, Young has moved past it. “I definitely forgave my father,” he says. “We see each other, we talk. Relax with the family. I’m happy to see my son around with his grandpa, so I thank God for that and for finding that inner peace that I needed.”
With a newfound purpose in life, Young says he’s made a complete turnaround from where he was after his NFL career fizzled out. “I tripped, scarred my knees up — but now I’m patching up the bruises, got a little ice pack on my neck — and I’m moving forward,” he says.
In the video below from HuffPost Live, Young talks more about how he was able to turn his failure into success.