If incredible odds weren’t defied, the New England Patriots would’ve won Super Bowl XLVI.
In 2011, the 25-year old standout receiver made a name for himself, recording 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. It’s quite the season considering he was overlooked by scouts and went undrafted in 2010.
Ironically, the man with the 41-inch vertical hurdled countless obstacles before finding a home in the league. One of those stumbling blocks became the classroom. Let’s just say Cruz spent less time studying at UMass than NFL cornerbacks do breaking down his game film today.
He just didn’t take school seriously. UMass eventually kicked him out of school as a sophomore after he earned a 1.7 GPA.
According to Bill Pennington of the New York Times, Cruz detailed his inevitable future if he hadn’t experienced a wake-up call saying:
“I was going to be another inner-city kid working at Wendy’s or some mall. In fact, that is what I was. I came home and worked in a clothing store at the Garden State Plaza. I could have been there the rest of my life.”
Cruz grew up in the Fourth Ward of Paterson, N.J. The area’s reputation reeks of crime and poverty. His goal of getting out became less likely as he failed to balance catching balls with reading books.
But luckily for Cruz, he had immense support from his parents. While his mom and dad never married, Cruz’s father Michael Walker still played a major role in his life. He taught Cruz the game of football and was his biggest fan. But in 2007, Cruz’s father committed suicide.
His dad’s death forced him to triumph over the trial without his hero. Adversity piled up to a mountain of misfortune, but Cruz refused to quit.
By 2012, Cruz reeled in 10 receptions for 142 yards in the NFC Championship game and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
According to Jeff Legwold of The Denver Post, Cruz’s inspirational advice is as follows:
“Never let anyone tell you no. Never let anyone tell you that you can't make it or that you can't do something. Always strive for greatness and do your best. A lot of people told me I couldn't make it, that I would never make the grades. Just maintain focus and do everything you can to make it happen. If you really have the drive and determination, you'll make it.”
And Cruz definitely did, all the way to the Super Bowl.
Presented by MetLife. I Can Do This.