Lost in all the NFL Free Agency frenzy wasn’t just some of the smaller moves by players not named Nnamdi Asomugha. Surprisingly, as everyone scrambled to follow the bidding for the all-world cornerback, sports media mouthpieces would sometimes note that Asomugha has already made a LOT of money and joining a team that could contend for a Super Bowl was more important than just signing with the highest bidder. But it seems that few, if any, bothered to delve just a bit further into why this was a different breed of cat.
Since everyone is so quick to focus on the character flaws of Randy Moss, or marvel at the length of some athletes’ rap sheets, let’s take a closer look at one of the real good guys in sports.
We all know new Philadelphia Eagle Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL (and as this season’s biggest free agent prize, we all know how to pronounce and spell his name). He’s been named to multiple All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams, and few quarterbacks even dare throw in his direction. Bill Belichick called him the most complete CB he’s seen. It turns out Asomugha is also an exceptional human being.
Asomugha joined former President Bill Clinton at the 2009 Meeting of Clinton Global Initiative University to discuss the importance of global service and student activism. He distributes backpacks to the incoming freshmen each year at Narbonne High School in Los Angeles and, through a mandate written into the endorsement contract he signed with Nike, he also outfits the football and basketball team with shoes.
He was named a Home Depot Neighborhood MVP in 2007 for his commitment to community service, was presented with The President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2008, and was also nominated for the prestigious Sports Illustrated 2008 Sportsman of the Year award. He has been recognized by fellow members of the NFL Players Association who nominated him in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 for the Byron “Whizzer” White Award for Outstanding Community Service.
In 2009, Asomugha was named to the “Dream Team for Public Service” by the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, and in 2010, Asomugha was presented with the 44th annual Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year, the NFL Players Association’s highest honor. He also serves as Chairman for the Orphans and Widows In Need (OWIN) Foundation. Through OWIN, Asomugha and his family provide food, shelter, medicine, vocational training, literacy efforts, and scholarships to widows and orphans victimized by poverty or abuse in Nigeria.
As if all that isn’t remarkable enough, in 2006, Asomugha launched the annual Asomugha College Tour for Scholars (ACTS) program. Every year, he teams up with selected students from Bay Area high schools on college tours across the country.
It’s a different city each year and it’s Asomugha who arranges, funds, and leads cross-country trips for inner-city youths — trips heavily tilted toward cultural and educational experiences.
For the first tour in 2007, he brought four students to Atlanta, GA to visit Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Georgia Tech University. In 2008, Asomugha and six students visited Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Brown University, and Berklee College of Music. All of the tour participants have gone on to attend institutions of higher education.
In April of 2009, ACT brought 10 outstanding students from Berkeley’s Young Musicians Program and East Oakland Youth Development Center to New York City to visit Columbia University, The Juilliard School and New York University and the New School. He not only arranged a five-day trip that had them going to NYU, the Julliard School of Music, Natural History Museum, Empire State Building and Columbia University; he had them in Bill Clinton’s office to meet the former President and spend a half-hour with him.
“Maybe someone’s passion is cars,” Asomugha told CBS Sports. “Mine is travel and public service. That’s the reason I started something like this.”
“I get something out of this,” he said of his annual trips. “The greatest satisfaction is the fact that they [the teenagers] feel like college is ‘cool’ after going on these tours because we don’t just go to colleges. A lot of times when a kid hears college he thinks, ‘Oh, we’re going somewhere else, and all it is is books, books, books and I’m going to be bored. I don’t want to do it.’ But we’re showing them the city and different things around the city. It just lets them know there’s life somewhere else, and education is not just books.”
In 2010, ACTS expanded to not only service high school students in the Bay Area but also select high schools in the Los Angeles area. For the 2010 tour, ACTS visited schools in Washington D.C.
For more information, visit his foundation’s website.