On and off the field, Scott Fujita is a man who has never been afraid to stand up and be accounted for.
Unwanted from an early age, Fujita has had to fight his way through life and has learned the valuable lessons that most men never will.
The son of an un-wed teenage mother, Scott found himself in an orphanage as a baby, before being adopted into a Japanese-American family.
His adopted father, Rod, came from humble beginnings.
Being born into a Japanese Internment Camp during the outbreak of World War II helped Rod mold Scott into the man he has come to be today, while still running a household that stressed honor and respect.
Being an orphan, Fujita has taken a strong stance on pro-gay human rights, arguing in part because of laws limiting gay adoption. "What the laws are really saying is that the concern with one's sexual orientation or one's sexual preference outweighs what's really important, and that's finding safe homes for children," he said, "It's also saying that we'd rather have kids bounce around from foster home to foster home throughout the course of their childhood, than end up in a permanent home."
Growing up surrounded by Japanese culture, even prompted Scott, in school, to declare, “Hi! I’m Scott. I’m 4. And I’m Japanese.” Obviously being a tall Caucasian male, it wasn't always a widely accepted statement, but Fujita has never struggled to be sure of who he is.
"I swear I'm not delusional, I know I don't have a drop of Japanese blood in me. But what is race? It's just a label. The way you're raised, your family, the people you love; that means more than everything else."
With a good head on his shoulders, Fujita embraced football at an early age, and in high school was a 5'6 safety his freshman year, before shooting up 10 inches by his senior season. While he made an impact at Rio Mesa High, it wasn't good enough to earn scholarships to the local universities.
Undeterred, he attended California University and received a walk-on offer from the Golden Bears. After blowing away coaches playing safety with two taped up hands (one broken, and one deeply cut), he red shirted his freshman season.
The following year, he made the switch to linebacker after adding 20 pounds to his 6'5" frame, where he became an instant standout until disaster struck.
In March he faced potentially career-ending surgery, spent three days in the ICU, and was forced to wear a neck halo for a week.
Again, he was not stopped and returned to live practice the following August. He got right back to work at becoming one of California's leading tacklers. His hard work prompted Cal coordinator Lyle Setencich to say, "I call it Pat Tillman syndrome, there are a few players you come across who give their heart and soul to the game. That's Pat Tillman, and that's Scott Fujita."
After graduating with a degree in political science, Scott was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. In his rookie season he started nine games and instantly contributed with 68 tackles while again impressing his coaches.
The following year he had become a regular starter and put up a career high 111 tackles, four sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. The next year he put up 90 tackles, and another 4.5 sacks, before being traded to the Dallas Cowboys.
After a short stint in 2005 with Dallas, where he only started half the season, Fujita was back on the free agent market where he was quickly picked up by the New Orleans Saints, reuniting him with his former positions coach Sean Payton.
As a defensive captain, Fujita averaged six tackles a game while with New Orleans, including four interceptions, and six forced fumbles before finally winning a Super Bowl ring at the end of the 2009 season.
In the offseason, Fujita's path found it's way to the doorstep of Mike Holmgren and a rebuilding Cleveland Browns, who offered him a three year, $14 million dollar contract.
Before leaving New Orleans though, he donated half of his Super Bowl check to the Haiti fund and the New Orleans Coastal Restoration.
Always up for the challenge of a rebuild, Fujita had no hesitation while joining Cleveland's roster.
“I’ve always enjoyed the process of trying to turn teams around. We did that in New Orleans, and I’m so excited about the opportunity to try to do that again,” Fujita said, "Now it’s a chance for me to go and work with Rob Ryan, a guy I’ve respected for a long time."
While it remains to be seen if his goal comes to reality, Cleveland has done a solid job in the offseason of restocking the shelves with winning players. In the Browns' defense, he's expected to take on a more central role and be featured at the inside linebacker position, presumably alongside restricted free agent D'Qwell Jackson.
In a league that's become overrun lately by the off field character issues of players like Santonio Holmes, Ben Roethlisberger, and Plaxico Burress; Scott Fujita is a welcome breath of fresh air. Whether he makes a huge impact on the field for the Browns as a player or not, the entire Cleveland community will benefit from the man, Scott Fujita, himself.
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