Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/27/13
It seems like every day we all manage to find something to complain about. Whether you have to wake up early for work, have an exam to study for or McDonalds stops serving breakfast at 10:30a.m. It seems like no one’s every satisfied. When you do complain, someone usually reminds you that someone has it worse than you. However, do you really think about that? Majority of us, me included, seriously underestimate that statement. It’s not until you watch, read or hear about something tragic when you start to realize what that statement means and even after that we still don’t crack the surface of that statement’s true meaning. Recent Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft pick, Shamarko Thomas, gives us another reason to really evaluate what we have in our life. Thomas, who played safety at Syracuse, was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round in the 2013 NFL draft. Thomas was their first draftee signed to a contract and has so much potential to be a superstar in this league. From a playing perspective, Thomas only stands at a whopping 5-foot-9 and that’s most likely why he wasn’t drafted higher. Though he’s short, the safety is in excellent shape, quick on his feet and extremely versatile. Amongst all these traits, what stands out most about Thomas is his tremendous work ethic, a work ethic that is fueled by a life of hardship. Thomas has experience gut-wrenching situations that some of us couldn’t imagine living through. Thomas grew up in a rough neighborhood and at times found himself falling into the wrong crowd. It wasn’t until his high school football coach, Chris Scott and high school police officer, Adam Bernstein set his head straight. After they talked him, there were no more wrong crowds, backyard brawls or stupid decisions because if there was, Thomas’ wouldn’t be in the position he is now. Thomas’ home life was no walk in the park. Thomas’ has 5 other siblings and had his mother who would work long, late hours at McDonalds just to make ends meet for her family. Thomas admired his mother’s hardworking mindset and everything she was doing for the family. Thomas, a highly talented football player knew it was gift and that he needed to put it to good use. Thomas went on to play at Syracuse, where he succeeded greatly, but that wasn’t the end of the tough times. Thomas experienced the death of his step-father when he was a freshman at Syracuse and although a tough loss to swallow, it didn’t compare to the tragic loss ahead. Thomas lost his best friend, his mother, only 9 months after the loss of his step-father. Trying to deal with all of this and balancing football and academics at Syracuse was no easy task. Thomas coped and overcame all of these adversities by having a one of the toughest mindsets, a mindset that led him to demonstrate tremendous hard work and dedication. After reading about everything Thomas’ went through, what shined brightest about the young man was how great of an example his story sets, along with how good of a role model Thomas is. Thomas reveals to us that we shouldn’t get so upset over the little things and how we shouldn’t take important people in our life for granted. Thomas’ success shows how hard work and determination can lead you out of the darkest shadows that life has to offer. Thomas also gives us another reason to love sports and the happiness they can provide us. We should all hope that Thomas has a successful career in the NFL because he’s an example of someone who fought through adversity and is coming out on top. If someone like Thomas can overcome extreme hardships like that, we can overcome the petty burdens that life throws at us every day. All we need is the hardworking mindset that Thomas embodies.
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