I've always faced adversity since the day I decided to be an athlete. At every turn, I was told what I would and wouldn't be able to do. I'd never let anything stop me, or anyone tell me who I couldn't be. My dreams were entirely too big. My Grind story began early in my career as an athlete. In high school, I thrived in athletics but always faced doubt from all angles. Established as one of the best, a single headline highlighted the front page of the OHSAA state championship final preview, dampening the spirits of a successful young career. The headline read "Coleman is a dynamic playmaker, but is hurt by physical stature. If he was taller, he'd have college coaches knocking down his door." That was the first time I was faced with a dream, not destroyed but altered. That was the moment I knew that if I was going to reach my goals, it wouldn't be my size, it wouldn't be my ability, it wouldn't be my IQ, but it would be my work ethic. My will to be the best would go hand and hand with my will to outwork the next man. My high school basketball coach Sean Taylor had two main sayings: "The only thing that you can control is how hard you work," and "Carpe Diem," which means seize the day.
My work ethic has always been the signature I leave behind. God given talent has always been there but talent that doesn't work hard is a waste. One thing I made sure would follow me from day one is that "Alex is our best, but also our hardest working." I would scratch and claw my way to the top! Senior year of high school I was an All-State Player and MVP, with a laundry list of accolades and achievements in multiple sports to go along with a 4.0 GPA and high ACT score. Everything was looking bright. I remember thinking to myself after all I've overcome, I finally am going to have my dream come true. My parents, friends, and family are going to watch me play ball on ESPN! Big time D1 football like I always had dreamed.
Every scholarship to a D1 school I had, I lost it in the blink of an eye. Coaching change here, coaching change there, nothing I did wrong, but it was dead end after dead end. The hardest thing was that it was completely out of my control; feeling powerless is the absolute worst feeling you can have. There I was scraping the edges looking for someone to give me a scholarship. I thought there was no way my luck is this bad. No way the Lord would let this happen to me. I'm the guy who did it all right, everything by the book! My last resort was to go back to the D2 that offered me first. When I told them I was coming, they gave my scholarship away, splitting it between two players. I had no options. I could feel the cold chill of depression lurking behind me. I faced my largest adversary, myself. I asked myself like "Alex what are we going to do?" I told myself I've got to Grind harder than ever, that I'd fall in love with the process, working on my craft, making myself the best, and being ready for any opportunity because one day I'm going to get my shot. I realized in that humbling moment of losing it all that this is not a fairy tale. You can do all the right things and still draw the short end. It's simply life, but you don't have to accept that fate. Fighting is always an option! My hunger and drive was amplified as I was faced with a choice be a victim, be the lead role in a tragedy, or be the star of a superheroes epic tale! I chose the latter.
Grind Now Shine Later would, from that point on, be the method and the motivation in which my life would reflect. For college, I was forced to go to a smaller school, and transferred two times to find a home. Due to those transfers, I would change majors, hit a rough patch, and a new obstacle at every turn. Regardless of what I was faced with, I'd make the best out of my situation. I spent countless hours in the stadium alone, running my routes, working on my feet and my time coming in and out my cuts without anyone else because I had plans beyond college football.
Besides being a standout ball player, I just couldn't catch a break. My junior year of college I'd face the biggest test of my life after having a great year, establishing myself as one of the best in the country. The very last play of the last game of the season we're leading by 30 points I already have 3 TDs and well over 250 yards. I'm blocking for my freshmen running back and he runs through the back of my legs. The doctor told me I tore my MCL and ACL; it was my first injury in my life of that magnitude. I had a moment where I wondered if that was it, that lasted maybe 5 seconds. The doctor told me that this injury would be career ending, suggesting I never play again. He told me recovery would be 12-16 months and I'd have to wear a brace. I looked at my support system. I told my father Rodney, my mother Rhonda, and my sister Ashley that this doctor must be crazy. I said "He must not know what we do. He must not know who I am!" It just so happened that Adrian Peterson had the same exact injury the same exact year. I knew my senior year would be major to me if I wanted to further my career after college.
I met a woman named Amy. Amy would become one of the moment important people in my life. The relationship we built changed my life forever. I discovered myself with this injury and she was the person pushing me every step of the way, believing in me when I doubted myself. I thought about 4 of my coaches Kent Schoolfield, Jamal Luke, Henry Stanford, and Dave Lakso. They all had experience ranging from OSU to the Pittsburgh Steelers and they believed in me like no other; they instilled in me that I could play with anyone, I had the ability equal to some of the best they've ever coached. I took all of that and became something else; I became someone else. All I did was Grind, every single day. The doctor said 12-16 months for full recovery. I FULLY recovered and returned to sport in 5 months! Fully recovered to play ball without a brace. I finished that senior season leading my team at running back, averaging over 13 yards a carry. Making All-Conference and being selected to the All-American Team and setting a school record in All-Purpose Yards. That year I did the impossible! I did the exact same thing Adrian Peterson did! One thing that didn't happen, my college never recognized me for it. That all played into my thought process that it never came easy before so I'll just have to Grind to get where I want to be.
From then to the present, everything I've touched, every day it's been a walking reminder that I've been a living embodiment of this philosophy! It doesn't come easy, you have to Grind to Shine! I've worked at gyms, I've scrubbed floors, I've driven hours to open workouts to pursue my goal and I've been released and cut. I skipped my graduation ceremony to chase my dream. Every workout, every time I was looked over, passed around, I wouldn't be outworked. I don't do it for fame or attention. I do it to show not only myself but all those who watch, those young athletes who look up to me or admire me, that nothing is worth having if you don't work for it. That you cannot take days off if you want to be great because there's someone out there working just as hard, who wants it just as bad. I'm here to set an example that no matter what, I will make sure that my own destiny is in my hands. That if I fall short, it will not be because I didn't work hard enough or because I wasn't prepared! All my life I had to overcome the odds, I had to silence doubters and critics, I had to work harder than every one else for the things I rightfully deserved. I was going to approach everything with the same mentality: you will not stop me, my Grind is unmatched. I want to be the man showing them the right way to do it. That it's a simple investment. You put forth your Grind now, so you can shine in abundance later!
Grind Now Shine Later, that is who Alex Coleman is!