In the blink of an eye, Orlando Bowen’s (http://www.orlandobowen.com/) life would never be the same. One moment, he was celebrating the signing of a new contract to play pro football, the next he was on the ground, being physically attacked by members of law enforcement, and suffering an injury that would end his career and lead to a season of life that would profoundly change him. Even though he was a victim, he found himself charged with a crime that, though eventually exonerated, led so many to abandon him. Bowen was forced to reckon with the injustice of the moment, while scrambling to figure out how to take care of his family. It took years, but, led by a giant heart and commitment to service, he rebuilt his living and life. Now a highly sought-after speaker and the founder and Executive Director of One Voice One Team Youth Leadership Organization, Orlando inspires people to get off the sidelines and become GameChangers in business and life. And, remarkably, 10 years after the incident that would forever change his life, he wrote a public letter of forgiveness (https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/03/30/football_player_who_was_beaten_by_cops_pens_letter_of_forgiveness.html) to his attackers. We explore this powerful story in today’s conversation.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
So the blink of an eye orlando bones life
by the same one moment he was,
celebrating the signing of a new contract to play pro football and the next. He was on the ground being physically attacked,
by members of law enforcement and suffering injury that would end his career and
to a season of life that would profoundly change him, even though he was a victim. He found himself charged with a crime that, though,
Eventually, exonerated lead, so many people around him too pretty much completely abandon him and he was forced to reckon
not just the injustice of the moment, but also
scrambling to figure out how to take care of his family. While he got everything right again and it took a year
but really leading with a giant hard and a commitment to serve as he rebuilt his living and his life,
now he is a highly sought after speaker and the founder and executive director of one voice, one team, youth leaders
organization and orlando Lindo inspires people too can get off the sidelines and become game changers in business and life, really in every part of there being an remarkably ten years after the incident that would forever change his life. He wrote a public letter of forgiveness too,
tat. We explore the moments along this journey and the powerful story in today's conversation so excited to share with you. I'm Jonathan fields- and this is good life project.
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but you moved away like to announce now
but you ve memories from like when you really little vague rose a year.
I almost feel like from the memories stem from my return visits. Yes, I know the shortly after we left with,
back- and I remember you know not wanting to leave cause- I you know a cousin that was very close in age and we would you know just play a lot is you know active. We are both very active and it was always hard to leave him. He since has moved to toronto.
It has been asked, but I remember that so what makes your family and multi debate jamaica decide your turn to
You know what I feel like it was really,
and in own opportunities right opportunities, long term opportunities for growth, development, employment
You know where we can do something that wouldn't be possible in jamaica. Saw you, I think
I was definitely a driving force. My grandparents and an uncle of alcove mind came, are went first were the first to go on that date. Top they spoke of the various opportunities
You know just be active in community and do things that not only make a difference but also allow you to take care of your family in and help family back home because of some economic opportunities and vocational opportunities, so that
was the genesis of the transition that cause. I can't
Imagine arriving from tropical. I like that too.
Please tell me it didn't actually happen in the middle of winter. It all depends on what time of year you are always say right, because, folks, what you you know we've had
come on. We have to make to you, you pack, all your swears.
And where three of them were like, why would we be wearing three sweat and then in
depending on when you land they all get. That's why we have. We have come to it.
Lily differently in its ensuring that you mentioned. There are part of the reason for the move was economic opportunity with part of it was also community and service seems like from the earth
these days that spend just a really important value for you, and I guess that comes from family. Yes, one hundred
said. My grandparents were all about community. You know and from what I understand you know, my great grandparents were the same in terms of
doing your absolute essen, and when I speak, I talked to force about raising the bar. Like with your effort, you do some groundbreaking things, you? U curate.
It is on a global scale that allow people to connect on a personal level when it comes to making a difference in you raise a bar for people. You also raised the floor so that folks, who may be willing or open to those things, have a place to stay.
then too, so that they could also reach the bar. So in our family. We ve always thought tomorrow
in a bar and raising a force for a more people- could access the bar there
I mean it's a powerful, serve way to look at your role in the world because it makes very other focused, yes, suit grown opposition
what typical year, you know, I'm a I'm a joker, and you know I'm like the fun make fun of you know my parents, grandparents, I caught my eye since they make fun, but I pretend to be I'd. Get into character- and I would you know you know I would be
ending them scolding, the kids in the night, where my grandmother's way and walk around- and you know it
Pretend that I was her hurts. Always I too have one night to be active outdoors, love being around people
And then you know just always wanted to add some role models. Do you know grow
yup that I just wanted to be. You know it wasn't like. I wanted to be like them. Just like I wanted to beat them. Who was my uncle? Henry was one of them. You know he was amazing. At sports, basketball was his passion, but he also loved computers. You know before that was a thing you know.
in I would we would spend this hours and hours outside playing games playing sporty ass. It. When I came to Canada was my mama clarion I they came in all. So I think that was you know that connection never has never. The power of that connection has never waned. He's always been my goal to go to guide, but he's
old excellence and service. So you know so I use one and then I'll be on my parents in terms of their their efforts. There grit resilience
some of the things you don't realize in a moment right, you know we often say that twenty twenty happens when you stop and reflect in. Oh you, you wrote
peace on your end, then the year and reflection that that I really appreciate it, because it allows you to gonna take stock of what's happening. What's import
were, you are why you are. Why were you are why you feeling how you feeling and life happened so fast that,
as you know, when stop to check in with ourselves ourselves there things more like you do this thing, this thing onto the next, so you so you you know I've learned over the years, the kind of stopping this time kind of think about. What's happening, I'm awake what's next, but also being reflective on what we ve learned through them.
just to life and now in unfolds near you mention here, your manager, parents great coming here what was most
actually doing when she got her toronto thought she was working full time at the turn of star newspaper and she was also a full time. Nursing student
so she's putting a lot of hours as china. You know get ahead, try to do something of significance. You know she chose a vocation that was also about around service. While my dad came, he gave him a cop. He joined us for a couple of years later he was working. You know like nine to five was down one. Five fifteenth at one am with doubt two and then drove a taxicab on a weekend right, so you know they. They were grinding right to to be able to create opportunities. Until you know, we were obviously living in public housing. So you know one of the goals was to kind of get us in a situation where we didn't have to be in that space, so they were they. They were working hard
to just make things better for for me and then for my sister, I, when she came along twelve years later, our twelve years later, the twelve years between us. Why, yes said they were really modeling? I mean what do you remember, as even as as a kid where you can?
aware of how fiercely they were working to survive
breathes new life. What is it really more? Upon reflection? Definitely upon reflection, yeah, I actually thought every day everybody's dad that had a dad had three jobs like that. That was my reference point right and and the other like male role models in my life. They also had multiple jobs, my uncles at multiple jobs or were going to school full time and and doing something
that was my norm, so you know I was there. I didn't realize that that that wasn't a case for everyone.
I knew that everyone had their parents are not have one at a dad in their house that I understood, because many of my friends are in those that type of situation grown up other grounds
or other relatives. But I didn't realize how significant their efforts were until later
have you ever I mean certain in.
Came back, earn, yellow, guess adult. Have you
cursor like gone back and sat down with them and serve had conversations about that time. Yeah yeah, I have recently actually the last christmas we were at dinner to my parents, now live in Tampa florida
so they decided they making their way slowly recited the about the world,
the weather the elements,
yeah I saw so you know I love them
I love them for that as well. It gives us a great vacation opportunities and they were talking about some of the sacrifices that men are kind of joking around about it, and then you know I I said well.
What else have you sacrificed? Because I get it like you go through certain things and and certain things you look at look back on it like? Oh, that was cool. That was funny. You kind of laugh about it, but there's often some things that weren't so funny that we'd, probably in or are suppressed in in the the you know in the back of our minds, because they they bring other emotions with them in terms of sacrifices made. So I I it just made sense that there would be some of those as well. So as they were joking around, I was like what what else did you go without so that we could have a chance
like what other sacrifice it did you make? I then so and then it got a little sleep of serious they are like. While you know I do in
We did what we had to do
Rather, we didn't want to burden you with the thoughts of the sacrifice we just because we wanted you to just focus on opportunities right. So
in this, and we do that for others right where you just
I never I never. I never really stopped to think how much someone else could have possibly done for us that would forever remain unspoken, but honored through the opportunities that we that we have in front of us on a day to day to day basis. Yeah, I think, a lot of times, especially with our parents, we don't actually hear and as human beings and to until
with their own lives, their own struggles around concerns, ruined hopes, fears and aspirations until much later in life when we're like ooh? These are people here have athlete and it's, I think, very often also
when it either you reach a certain mom you're alive. It often times the triggers one. When and if you become apparent as well, and then you start to understand that there is a just
changing some pretty profound way and what you're gonna do you are also when you are younger, brilliant athletics, yeah when it s sort of always wanted
place, for we couldn't really afford. Organise word saw when I got middle school was one we started in
went to school that will compete against other schools and say
This is awesome, I'm so excited,
I remember watching has been an I made. The best bought him as one that all these kids
I made the basketball team also pumped I went to my uncle's place. You are watching Michael Jordan on video video old school video called come fly with me and, as you know, seeing him jump and then dunking and hitting you know, big shots and out of sight, that's going to be me, like,
this weekend bright eye, so united, these visions of what was going to happen. I remember it.
No getting. I was playing defence,
a guy and he's coming down and gets so about the free through lion, any pulls for a jump, jumps outside jump towards him
and outstretched challenging the shot momentum bringing me closer towards him,
is the shot, but my momentum was carrying me towards the other. To his basket saw our point: guard VON gets the reeboks. I sat running
oh papa, how open any past he's the best
It's me and I'm thinking this is it.
my movements, this
empty. Just like I found the right, there's nothing between me and a basket.
The ball. I take a balance and I think what to do some special,
I think another bounds and then on the third.
The ball back off my foot and went out about a hand.
I'll, never forget the the our courts quota gregg would
you always were a baseball cap that games and when one a ball
went out of bounds. He took his hat off his
I'm down, he turned to our point guard via and he said fine,
You know you should pass in the ball. You know that he can drivel
And those words landed so powerfully with me that I was like
Can't even get mad at me, he got mad at a due to pass like that serious right. I must be
really bad, and I said
there again. Why be weak link on any team that I've that I planned, and that was,
I catalysts. For me, I asked him. I went to my or my old class. What do I have to do to be the best at what I do and he said you have to be willing to work harder and smarter, and I said well, what does that mean he's like hours and hours when others are asleep or unwilling? A saucer caught got a basketball, and from that I sided out for two hours. Every
winning the summer between the seventh and eighth grade. I dribble I average maybe six to seven hours on the courts at some court playing basketball practicing playing against older guys. I would ride my bike, sometimes fifteen miles because fifty miles to play with-
that was playing under junior national team and wanted to be around that. So
you know that was at that moment that I had with a coach course gregg. Would
I was so transformative for me in terms of my commitment to do something with with whatever. Yes, I would.
was given their it so interesting. Also that part of what really triggered this shift in you, it wasn't that it could turn to you. It was like that he torrent
but he else for not knowing that you, like you, were included good enough to be able to get the bar as late. It's it's a more complex nuance thing there,
so it was. You know again. How is a site that deep for me,
I dont know how would have process had he. You know
pointed at me and said something to me directly. But if to me it was like it was kind of profound like man. I must be really bad. I must suck for him not to get mad at me to get mad at the person that
Gave me the book that, but it also it's like it, goes to your. He goes to that value set right, that you've shared has been still knew from a young age. In that part of the reason you do. This is your own joy and expression, but part of it is like it's service to the bigger me to the team you know like and- and you know you
It's almost like your current ability then caused somebody else in your immediate community, some level pain
and a sick. I wonder if there is almost also son like a feeling of responsibility. It, like I dont, want people that I care about to be brought down or attacked because of wherever I am.
It's interesting. It's interesting that that moment has stayed with you also a lotta years ago, right, yeah, absolutely so that becomes
the catalyst for you when you show up the next year. Are you different by very different? I you know and that work ethic didn't stop like it. You know you couldn't find me without a ball. My head,
when I couldn't bring like my regular size, basque. I had many more that I would I out
dribble around on the street as I was walking and- and you know with my friends, so it just became something that you know I just I was like. I can't make any excuses right as to why I'm not a contributor, despite what happened I still have I have.
A choice. I tried to do something, so it is interesting into how you your perspective on AL. You ve, articulated, be looking at that situation and uneven relative to what would I do now. We know, through speaking or with our without
the charter will work. There is certainly a broader lands. None
time, you're also likest, basketballs, really big central theme, but you're also here,
when is when is football actually come in for a football comes in in high school, okay yeah? So I you know I was you couldn't get me off the basketball court? You know I was just so passionate about the game. I got really good at the game that our team, like our high school team, to know the championship like we won the region
It was like a big deal. You know a friend of mine that had been playing football since he was eight comes up to me and he's like listen man you're like big and you're strong and you're fast, like you should, you know, consider football. So I was like I've. Never you know, I've never played.
four, and he says well like you- could do really well, and it also sounds like okay, that's interesting, you know woody woody I'll do if it's snows like he and he's like. Oh, we play.
So what about like rain, like freezing rain in his eye we play and ass? I now
I can't do that. I'm an indoor climate control propaganda,
the islands and on the role of our play in the snow, but I'm not playing a game in this new right. So you know that kind of that was that, for my
freshman year high school sophomore year, nice glass eye
I'm not playing, and then the one of the quarters came to me and said you know you have a lot of potential
I know you pride yourself on defense and basketball. Do you think you could lock down some like on the other team's wide receiver, whose job is to catch a ball? You think you could apply the same principles of defense and football.
and I said yeah I probably could, and is I taught years what I'm gonna, I'm gonna put you up against our best wide receiver. You do not let him catch a ball if by chance he does catch it. I want you to hit him tackle him to the ground and I was like gotcha, so I went out there. You know played defense, he didn't catch the ball first time didn't catch the ball, the second time he caught the ball. The third time and I tackled him- and I said, oh
Do this the alison, as you can see, the smile it is carried out.
so that that was the death. You know that felt
I'll get. I could do this
and that was the beginning of my my football journey.
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of northern ireland, I university right arm of the husky right. Yes, but play football. I mean we whispered about one of the things I brought you to the school that he went there.
I saw. Was I started playing high school by one of the things that happened was there were older does
couple years older than me being recruited to go the major football programmes so that the scouts were coming up to our high school. Looking at some of those guys
and we had at one point we had eight dies honour on my senior are varsity team that got division. One scholarships la
you two percent percentage, easy yeah, you know.
The toronto area so
No, there were their eyes and
and they will cover the guy
one ahead of us would say like it.
How amazing it is, and you know how much it's a family and there's like one hundred and ten guys on the team and you kind of bond and you go through challenges and I'm like yeah yeah. I like that and I'm like, and they pay for your schooling too cause I mean shoot. That's that's significant, because education has always been big in our in our house in terms of the significance of it. So I was like if, if I can get a scholarship, that's a no brainer,
For football was the vehicle for that, so football became the folk there. So you end up new end up in school plan, and sometimes he was going to setting when
I did a under gatt and marketing and then a masters in the management of information technology but again fallen.
my uncle Henry was that he was. I t guy, that connection, never wind, but yet loved the thought, marketing again the connecting with people connecting people with things that could help them and then, in being connected to what I was familiar with in terms of what my uncle henry.
Yeah. So I t suit, did you do them? And that is interesting that longer we are to you. I was just talking to somebody else played for penn state during really interesting. Time was redshirted, so he was there. Five years did the undergrad.
Asters are also late during that window. Is that what you did also er yeah yeah? I started as a freshman, but then I got injured my second year I had a stress fracture at l, five for this
at the lower spine and lower back yeah, yeah and hairline crack in that vertebrae, a hit or just from just from youth, usa and possibly from a hit, could have been a trigger at the end of my sophomore year or my I had to I miss my whole sophomore season, two sophomore season and they're, like you're you're, probably never going to play this game again cause what you have doesn't heal. You have two options, though, like we could fused heat the bone up, fuse it together or put you in a plastic cast.
I told the placid cats for three months where I get that had velcro straps at the side. I could take it off the shower. What have you you know? Faith is really big for us in our house as well, and I was just praying like if I could actually make a difference in someone's life to this game of football. I please let me play again and if this is the
I've been cool, then is the path, and I remember all the culture that recruited us were fired because we didn't win the championship in. Oh, I was
then my rehabilitation was to be walking on a treadmill. Five four point: one miles per hour at one degree inclined for like thirty minutes- and I did
and was successful, and then they would increase the incline and fully increase the speed? And until I cited jogging and photo like he's jogging crazy and
with a comeback and play for three seasons, but all of that that
this is one I was heard, and I couldn't plea was that was it?
that's a moment in there is one where the fake lamps can a party.
I don't have to go to practice. I don't have to you know and for like the first week I think I was out like every night partying and then I I
Something just didn't feel right
this can't be my path, so I loaded up academically I took
like a semester in a house worth of work eat semester that I was that I couldn't plea. So then it got me ahead and I was able to graduate early and then start my master at it. I mean it's interesting choice to make
were carried out, I mean so cause you're there on on athletic scholarship. So
were you concerned at all that if you couldn't returned to play that you also loses Gaza,
so what they were going to do, because
Something would be that had happened. I football related would be, and I had this conversation with the doctors that I would then have to work at the university in marketing articulating the ticket office. Something
acted to athletics because they were so honour. My scholarship biologists have to work in. You know, instead of being able to play there, so you in it
come back, you wanna play and we also say something interesting witches that playing for you. One is at least especially when you go to college
it. Just that you love doing it. It was a way of creating impact which is an interesting frame to bring to the game. I mean I can see especially a lot of older players like further into their careers tented
take on that, like the roma have been among the different thing. It's interesting that
that was in your head
The motivator for your desire to play at a really young aid- you knows it this interesting.
Your observation is interesting. I always felt like like
look at different stages or different. You have different life experiences for me. Was the opportunity to
college ball and I'm around? All these guys are come from all over I'll across america and canada and in on thinking. You know what
johnny off my high school team. He could do this. I he could be in a spotlight this as well
And had he known that he could do something like this.
may not have made that some of the decisions that he made from a social perspective
Brandon and I started feeling a responsibility to let people know what was possible
because I didn't know like you know,
it was all it always kind of new to me still cause over a three year period
from not playing the game to being on scholarship somewhere and had not been given that opportunity. Who knows what the path would have been,
right. So I started thinking well, there's that I'm not the only one that you know hasn't been exposed to that as a possibility. I had cultures. I had teammates that encouraged me to
in to pursue or to be open to it, and that's what led me to that opportunity and then to you know, be in a position to be a starter and, to you know all this other stuff is because other people pave the way, the older guys and then lit the
right, so I should be doing that for someone else, because they they could. You know there's guys it that are better than, and I was
for sure in high school, I didn't get a scar
because I didn't have access to some of the things that we have access to. So you come back
you're playing? You do well. Well
now when you, when you graduate you'd, you graduate what you do. Is you graduate the masses greener t, also who what's the decision for the next step,
Well, it's you know. We ve put the work in part way through the programme were being. It was the top twenty five masters programme,
and so we are being recruited we'd, be like six months into the programme. My called classmates!
being offered jobs. Silicon valley, east coast, like it was crazy sort of a man like this is amazing like we're we're gonna do this, like you know, so I I was like okay cool, so I wanted to be able to
make money out my family and create opportunities, fathers,
right. So how an I didn't know what that was. Gonna, look like me,
just sharing stories, so the others could know what some of the things that are possible, like I had done for me through my coaches, to my teammates to the older guys that went on scholarship before me. So I end up. I took a job, a consulting job at an amazing company in downtown chicago.
the candle re close to the lake. A nice little car I was excited. Life was good right, so you choose like the the big slash, ity, yes path as the centre, knowing that maybe you'll do this other stuff me almost like the rock
at my right, like maybe that will take care of you like
everything and give me the freedom to on the side. Maybe go. Do some of the others relate inspirational stout? Yes, Sir
and then even within the teams and the team that I was on an the consulting team that I was on at.
No out often be one night and courage
people, then you know
celebrating wins and you know I'm you know
animated at times and
so I would be no celebrate like we want a championship, and I brought that, like sports element to our space
man like you, should do more of this type of
yeah. Do you know why who knows
the future rules, but then I
It was something that was missing, even though I was making you know really decent money really good for from what I
been used to a really good money, I felt like something was missing. It was that all raising it afore was the whole idea of helping others who didn't have access the opportunities that that I had access to or maybe that the access was their body. They couldn't see it and didn't see themselves as persons who could step into those possibilities cause. I certainly didn't see myself, as do
Is that as a vocation- and I wouldn't have seen it without the lighting of the path and the encouragement of folks who saw things in me that I didn't see it myself, you decided to make a jump so, which would say your elite school. You pretty much leave football behind. You go into the world of business incorporate in chicago, but when and how? How far into that career? Do you start to realize like something's, missing and then start
to look back into the world of football yeah. Well, it was an hour. I remember a conversation. We were on a project down in dallas, texas, loved dallas. One of my friends would like to playing for the cowboys at the time, and you know
I remember being down there and there was a our database. Guy was, you know, looked up to him, respected him, respect him a lot.
We are working on a really long hours. That's why I'm
but I'm looking at him like. That's me, fifteen.
So now. I'm here he's happy. Is you always do
thing so at dinner. I said to him so.
but he would he do for fun, george, and
looks at me like fun. I just work
it was like someone let the air out of
out of a balloon. I was like. What do you mean like you? Don't do anything for fun? Do you have family he's like? I don't have time for family and I was like that can't be me that can't be me or dad to be it can't. I can't just work,
it'd be the only thing I have to do something that contributes and gives back and so funny enough. I was six months into my job, actually three and a half months,
the new job. When I got a call from the turn argonauts iniquity
for bali and they said. Are you still interested in playing football, and I said
I'm interested in serving. If I make the team what I have a chance to serve in community- and they said absolute me, so I said that yeah I'm interested in playing football, then, if that's possible cause, I cited looking at it from like this. I could engage people from the platform of being a professional athletes and serve community if that were to become available, so that was the. That was a thing. So, six months after I started my position I took leave of absence to pursue
the possibility of serving through this border football. That's interesting off ass. If it wasn't I'm company,
neatly done. It was like. Let me take a leave of absence to create some space to see what this feels like in your minds. When you did that
Were you already done with it that
that you are leaving- or were you generally just experimental like maybe I'll go back- maybe I don't know
like I was like. Let me
I always say you don't really know. You know what
to resonate on that. You put yourself fully on this
fully immerse yourself in it. So
they took leave of absence. The you know the leadership at the company was real. You know was amazing about it in full.
It is the name of the company and they were really amazing about it in terms of listening. If it doesn't work out well, you know, will hold your spot, for you know three months for sure and then
We thus have a conversation with you, some people that I was crazy. I d like,
so you're going so you could. You know when I get the nfl right and, like you, don't make the mega box type thing,
because you're on, like this leadership path here- and I said I dunno I I just need to- I need to do something that that contributes and gives back
So once I made the team, I immediately got involved in service. It was working with a kiss homeless, youth, refugee families, it kids with cancer. We goin in red t read stories very animated waits for
young people who didn't get a chance to ever go home and may not have the opportunity for their parents would come in and read to them. Often so we you know, we did that. I was training, police and racial sensitivity. I was going into schools with police officers and encouraging young people to stand up for the right thing, even when it's different,
well to do so, so I was just trying to contribute because I knew I wanted to serve, but I didn't know how, like I didn't know what exactly to the you know the what way was going to be the thing that would light me up. So I I
the number of different things? I'm just like why I have time so I'm going to serve my parents thought I was crazy because we finished the football season. It's like november. It's like minus five.
he's in a like. You come into Florida right
I'm not gonna, love Montana, this high school and you know, do something:
stir to try to give back so that was that was that yeah.
You're doing that. Firstly, a chunk of yours along the way. Also you form of the s
your sir in yet married. She asked in the beginning stages of starting a family. I five years
so you had resigned
new deal with your team and then in the
link given I everything changes in a big way, so I signed
so I made an amazing amazing young.
team sky. We had one son that I'm going into my fifth season. We had one son Dante and she was pregnant with our second and signed a contract extension. I'm excited to go out and celebrate with my teammates over then I meet up at a carpool location and then go downtown toronto. I get
location first, talking on the phone excited to connect with my guys and then I look over. I see two guys walking towards me who are armed with guns. One threatens to shoot me in the head,
what do you think as their walking over what he actually what's? So I'm skipping a few of the details.
As they approach me. One guy says: hey man, what you got cunningly drugs and I'm now and I'm
the first thing I'm thinking was man. If you only knew the work that I do to alps kind of stare, people on you know on the right path or onto a better path. You wouldn't even ask me that question, but then I'm thinking he obviously doesn't know right. So I just said nope and I go back to my phone call. He stopped at the rear of the vehicle, another guy kept walking and the guy that stops. As I'm sure you don't have anything and I'm thinking
I just as your question. Why would you be asking me if I'm sure they that doesn't make any sense and then.
I looked to see where the guy who continued walking was, and as I look up
I feel that in see him and then I I rotate to the
I visited and I notice he's standing in my blind spot and I'm like what's going on right, so I take a step back, so I could see both of them at the same time and as it was happening and that's when the conversation escalated grabbed me one guy said you know, I'm a police officer, so I said, ok cool because I work with police close with the police chief. We meet often to talk about community thing, so I'm like okay he's like do you mind if we,
you, go through your pockets, so I'm looking at it not like why. But you know what I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I've got nothing to hide, go ahead. They go through my pockets. They don't find the
the thing and then one of them put his hand on my chest. My my heart and he's like why your heart beating so fast and I said, listen to me. Man, I've got to grow.
One men grabbing on me in a parking lot and other german says what two guys were to cuts and when he said that he was like literally shaking his arms were like he was holding onto me
and his arm was shaking and his eyes were wide aside, I'm looking at him think he is your key and I met this partner. Like are you saying
when he was holding onto me. I looked down and he had like his sleeve
had rolled up and there was an attack of an eagle with a dagger and blood dripping.
an eagle with a dagger in it's talons and blood dripping from the dagger, and I'm thinking these guys aren't cops is some kind of setup or something I dunno what's going on right now, so I knock his hand off and he moved towards the front of the of the vehicle he grabbed my jacket. I let my arms go behind me. Like my, my kids will say: like naruto runs, so my jacket comes off, I move up.
Front, run in front of the vehicle, then of the passenger side, and I'm a pretty you know I'm playing linebacker, I'm a pretty fast guy, so I'm like I'm out here, alright
as long as I'm running out your stop or I'll shoot. Something he's got a cup.
why stop and ass it was going on and it came at me if they are lying in one guys, breaker f leg
he's trying to get my maid to collapse. So we can get
regarding our thinking is. I can't go to the ground because if there
beating on me like this, while I'm standing up, if I got that are, grounded arap right some on china not to go down to the ground, I'm
what's going on? What did I do, my god? What did I do and one of them you know grouse, my arm
and at this time in my life, I'm like fairly strong right, I'm bench pressing four hundred and fifty pounds on squatting like six hundred pounds and end the adrenaline is flying.
alright cause, I'm you know it's fight or flight, so a guy grabs. My arm, I pull my arm away, he flies like ten feet and when he gathers himself, he puts his hand on his pistol turns was partner and he looks at me and he says I'm going to shoot him in the head. I swear to god and when he said that I thought man I'm not going to see my family again
is it back here like this and that's when I knew that every decision that I made thereafter? That would happen in a moment,
But either allow me to see my found again or not so that's when I allowed them to take me down and even as they got me down the beating contain
In order to get alma head split, and you know I was facedown and just feeling like this is it I caught it. I would never have jumped in a million years that this is how I would die and I haven't taught our son at the time
this is yet item. I have that all these things are as a dad as hubs husband. I had
No, this is what I'm going for. This is what we're going to do as a family and all of those things. This is what I'm going to do a community. All of those things are about to die with me, and that was heart. That was really are, but then you know
they got me down to the ground and all I could think was just protect your skull and protect your organs right if they punch in and they can punch other things and break bones. But as long as I protect my colon and organs eyes, you know it'll give me the best chance to get out of there alive. So that's what I did and then they call for backup, backup uniformed officers now come marked. Cruisers come
throw me in the back of a cruiser, then one of the uniformed officers takes my wallet and then my wallet was my my players card, my cfl players' association card, as well as the actual playing card, and he looks at any he says is this you and I said yeah and he looks at his side the the picture on here this this person is you so I said yeah and he says oh sh.
Right so I'm thinking. Ok, he realizes that they must
but maybe realises that on their spokesperson, maybe realises that I'm the keynote at the race against racism. That is
it together, police and community. Six weeks from what's happening
maybe realise is one of those things and you know it
do what he can to fix it right. So
The next thing I know being taken to the jail right, some taken to jail. I know, what's going on
as for I'm, asking for my phone call and they're like no, no, don't worry about it, so I'm like no, I need to. I need to make my phone call. I was gonna call the chief of the be the first call I made when I was going to ask him
call the mayor and a couple of the forces to let them know what's happening, but they will,
Let me call anyone.
So they hold him into jail cell and then, as you know, I fear for being so tight
Passes right, two guys come to the cell. They look at me like man, you don't look. What my face is beaten and bloodied, and and
They said you know what your blood got on a couple of our guys man, you have any diseases that we should test our guys for
Can I don't like you serious? That's what you're gonna
if I have diseases that you need to test your guys for, because my blood got on them and I think I said now and they said okay, facts and he walked off so hours,
pass and they keep the name you my phone call than but then I hear them releasing some other folks. So I think maybe they're gonna release me too
I asked. When do I get to go home and that's when officer
you're not going on. We have a bill Harry, don't you know
been charged with and I'm like charged and he's like yeah, you assaulting a police officer and possession of a controlled substance, and I just I was in absolute disbelief, I'm like what are you talking about and he looked at me said. You know what you look like man
you look like a piece of shit. You f in a hole and then he walked off his mind and it was real
The charges were for real that everything shifted so any day
and not an coffee meet a team in a court. Next morning I got near three other guys dad too to be in that space
I ended up. You know I was, can cause, I can return to football, but the bigger challenge was the reason I got back to Canada was to serve
and now all the organizations that I was serving with schools that I was working at called and said. Listen. We wish you all the best man, but don't ever come back here, because we can't have someone like you doing this talking to people around here. So good luck so was lonely.
Or was it said, the most sounding time we're your new family. My wife was pregnant nino there. Some hormonal shifts that happen with that in and of itself, and we
this to the to the equation, and it was just you know I, I honestly
I thought we were gonna. You know she was going to lose the baby I'll say: there's no way we are going to make it through a distress levels are too high
So much uncertainty, uncertainty among you know I can end up in prison in all.
Congo see my family get across the border. Like all these things at play alone decide this is, I can't I just can't believe it
you are also recovering from a can cut from a composite which that alone is pretty. I mean I'm just on the purely physical, the anything there.
On all the likeness, the r and d circumstances Yeah saw was a
journey. One of my outlets was being physically active, but fur.
Good amount of time I couldn't because of the concussion symptoms. I would go to the gym and try to run, and I would just start to you know. Throw up
in a move like any sudden movement. It was. It was very difficult to make a long story short. You know we're in a court room and and having to listen to the officers. You know, as they say, they're just like making things up really and
you know saying one officer, I remember him looking at me and say and then looking at a judge and saying your honor, he six two to thirty five unease actually trained to hurt people. I've never been so afraid in my entire career for my own life and I'm thinking. How can you say that
and in that moment I thought-
pain must have been through to alarm the capacity to do that. To someone else and in tat moment I decided to pray for him because I saw
I felt really sorry for what he must have
is to allow them to do that to someone else. So I started praying for him to get the healing that he needs and for the truth to come out and then, as we got closer to the verdict, you know I got a call from one of the reporters that was on a case and informed me that the arresting officer, in my case it was himself arrested by then
national police, the rcmp, the equivalent of the f b. I the officer was arrested for trafficking cocaine. They found seventeen kilos of cocaine at his house, so yeah so was, and he said you know
The current turning to date, there probably gonna, become you so right and sure enough. I get off the phone reported that the cause and and says he can handle buddy like you. Do
to making work in a community ass, he didn't nodded. I knew about the charges because it nothing. I've been in the media as you
as everybody knows, about the amazing work that you do and we don't think this course stuff is fair. Sometimes it gets a little messy, so why don't you just? Let us drop the charges and everyone could just go home and be happy. So I said like make a deal and she said yeah and I said no absolutely not. I said I'd rather be wrongfully convicted vs striking a deal on that premise and she was like fine. This was your chance, buddy you're going down and she hung up the phone. The next call we got was to go to court and, as they were going to now asked the judge to let them drop the charge. So we show up at court. They asked the judge that says no and says for the to that. I prepare my judgment for today. Farmers are born innocent. These are the reasons why I was acquitted on that day and then we filed a civil lawsuit that settled
four years later, so all in all took about five and a half years from the assault, so legal closure right. So what am I mean? How are you.
During that window of time have taken care of yourself. I mean because it seem like so many people to turn their backs
yeah yeah. You know it was interesting because we had a number of people come to us and say it must be so hard man. All your friends are leaving you and I said, actually it's it's been a real blessing because none of our friends have left
Thus, every friend we have knows who we are and what we stand for. They haven't gone anywhere.
anyone who was here? It is no longer here there either did.
Well, we were already had. Never you know they just don't understand what we're about so so it was almost like a cleansing.
Right the forces we were round as we knew understood. We were always therefore.
So and there were times are you know I mean many times you go through challenges in and you know too crazy difficult.
situations a wee wee smaller. We say, I'm fine
Someone asked you how you doing you're going through it in you. I know you have many good reasons not to let them know.
and it was no differ for us as we are going through it. We didn't want to inflict pain on on others, sweaty people we cared about, so we can. I kept it here are some of the time anyway
you ve kept it in. I said you know we're gonna, be all right.
You know I we didn't get into it, because we didn't have any closer to share with anyone. So the times that we did share with people, they would start crying
did you know I've got teammates at our. That ranges I'm a mediation and then to be like, as you know, one
some of them would start crying and I'm just like yeah. I remember one of my teammates was kind of you know he has a lot of energy as a defensive guy and
when he came in. He asked how things are going when I shared he. I saw him looking around like he was going to like throw something- and I was like I don't want to put people through that emotional experience. So I'm just gonna say I'm good and maybe a few people will keep it. You know,
will share with until we get some closer, but the reality was.
I realize early that it wasn't even about me, which is interest.
And the morning after the assault, when I was at a hospital and a nurse came and said, hey, you know what happened to you and I looked at my wife and I'm like she's, not gonna. I said to my wife nurse isn't going to believe me. So I just turned to the nurse- and I said
that jumped and a nurse says oh by who the police. I was highly offended by that question.
I because our working so hard to build.
Community relations, that everybody in a community right. I don't mean people's evil between police and community, now just community because it
police are part of the community right we're all in this thing together
The moment we got a line in the sand, we all lose so.
work is or how to build community an and then this is the response I so why would you say that it? She said, because I see it more often than not lie to, but useless. Teenagers are people who don't be english. Well, so you not really fit the bill and when she said that I've I realized
he named a couple of populations, but I was working with at the time and in a moment I realize this wasn't about me was about getting through a total. We could give hope to others who feel like they have no reason to have hope in whatever situation there are facing. So you know that was definitely a shift in perspective for me answers if we have to get you
this is way bigger than us. So, even when I was sitting in a courtroom and officers came in an era testifying and looking at me with angry eyes, I was thinking about I'm not even upset with you, because what's happening here is pales in comparison to what's happening on a larger scale out there, when people give up give up hope and give up on your relationships, give up on their jobs, give up on life right so
We have a responsibility and we have to get through this. There,
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really unusual lands. Also tat helps explain something you
chunk of years later suit. You actually at your emerged from this really tough window.
I start to rebuild your career and you're out there actually doing a lot of speaking and and motivating a lotta people and inspiring people and still building community and being of service, as you also rebuilt your reputation in the community, so that people will even invite you into rooms right and that's a long process for you and then just couple of years ago I guess was a twenty twenty fourteen ish or something like that. He wrote a public letter to the cops who started the
this whole thing, which I think a lot of people, probably still to this day, have trouble wrapping their head around. So are I wrote a letter and it's one of the interesting things is that I wrote a letter about a year and a half after the assault on the king, and I one I I took it home. I dunno, if you're an artist right, so you have an appreciation for that
words. So I wrote this letter. It was actually at a business conference where they were talking about, take your business to the next level and and they're like what do you need to let go of so you could actually get to the next level like who do you need to forgive, and I'm like forgive. This was
if the case was happening, but I'm in a business mindset like I got them forgot. A way to you know make some money from it from my family. You know I was doing some personal training for athletes house, you know, do some work in a multi level, marketing company
saw I'm this unfocused like I have to be focused on their time. We neither forgiven, unlike forgive anybody, to forget
and then, ladies beside me, as I can know what I haven't spoken to my brother in eight years because of something he said at my wedding and I'm like man, that's deep,
brother and I'm like. I don't have anything like that, and then I thought
However, I can't speak in the court room and I feel I daresay disconnect between what the officers think I'm feeling
versus what I'm actually feeling, because when they are looking at me, they're looking at me with these angry eyes like they want to be more mad at me than I am at them, but I'm not even I'm not mad at them.
So I said you know what I was going.
The paragraph in terms of what I would say to them, if I could actually talk in court and as I started, to write my hands, couldn't keep up with the thoughts
we're flying in tears? Started flying and I just was right-
in writing- you no one. I will finish it felt like this burden. I've just been lifted. I, like literally a burden like I was wearing a backpack and someone just said. I got you and took it
so when I you know. I went home and I should a letter with my wife ass. She was like you, wrote that, and I said yeah she said I would write a letter.
But it wouldn't sound anything like that. One and I thought man while if she doesn't get it, he's going to put this away so I put it away put in a box. Po put it.
see. Then we are at we hired a new staff member if she's from the south bronx as she came in, and you know very passionate about empowering people and working with
women are share. My story with her and she sighed ass crazy, like that
and then I said I see I wrote a letter and type goin to my office and I take the box out and I take it
take out the letter and I started reading it to her listed years later: yeah, yeah, yeah and she's crying and she said. Have you shared that with people- and I said I shared it with with sky, but like I dunno, if people will like really get it,
This is a man. Do you understand how that could help people eel by now? I should like you need to share it.
so I started sharing it as part of my presentations so and then falsity can. I have it and I say no
weekends, but one day I will release it, so I ended up releasing it like. On the ten year anniversary of the assault, I released it to the public to the media and then that's how it kind of got out there
there. I'd I'd, never realised that that was actually somebody written years before as a way to lift somewhere to get something out that you want
Will they actually, legally, you re, able to say directly remedies to individuals and eyes
I give my wife doesn't understand from who and she's in it with me
who is going to understand, and I don't want people to look at me funny. So let me just put it in a box and put it away yeah. I remember when I read it and I was like wow. This is really powerful, it's hard, but it does it plans to see it, have it published somewhere or is it printed somewhere? I can leave this. Yes, the
in the toronto star. I can send your old traveling to the show notes, so you guys can actually see that later, because the hangs really is powerful and it can be an interesting catalyst to maybe hard conversations, and maybe you know inciting the beginnings of a process of conversing.
forgiveness, which it seems like so much of what you are about now. So so, as we sit here today in know, you
We rebuilt your life in a very different way. You want it organization, road foundation
when you're out there in the world, speaking all over the place, running programs to every everyone from kids here, like in schools, to giant corporations around the world, really a lot about your life,
it goes sounds like a lot of your words circles way back that course set of values that we started the conversation with when you're a kid. You know about the importance of service in community and and written the floor right, not just the bar
yeah. I feel like the things that happen to us,
They shouldn't have any bearing on what possible for us. They give insights right if we stop and reflect. We can gain tremendous insights and then ask questions, but when you have a focus sought to say that
The the end goal is for us to come together right, no matter what right,
The end goal down thing is for us to like come together and be our best. Then everything that happens if it, if you filter it through that lens, then you allow it to lend itself to the end goal.
Sometimes you have to like really search heart to see how the how does this connected? And my I understand.
And it's a you know. I don't think I've ever really spoken this out loud, but there was a part of me that that died on the night of my assault. I think it was the part of me that felt like I had to do something in life. That was for me because of
our dislike the fact that I'm still alive. I know that my life has purpose and my purpose is to help other people realize that their lives have purpose and in light of what they've been through. As a matter of fact, some of the things that we experience, uniquely positions us to give hope and light to others, were experiencing whatever challenges or life experiences. So you know I'm like. I am clear on on why I'm here and now I just gotta, we gotta go man, I agree after we got to go, relate there feels a good place for us to come full circle as well. So if I offer up the phrase to live a good life, what comes up to live a life of service where you pour into others,
an understanding that the matter they belong and that their life has purpose. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So much for listening and thanks also to our fantastic sponsored who helped make this shell possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today show nuts and while you're at it. If you ve ever ask yourself,
should I do with my life. We have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work that you are here to do. You can find it add, spark a type dot com. That's s, p, a r K, e t, why p dot com or
I clicked a link in the show notes and of course, if you haven't already done so be sure to click on the subscribe button in your listening app. So you never miss an episode and then share share the love. If there's something that you've heard in this episode, that you would love to turn into a conversation, share it with people and have
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Transcript generated on 2023-06-26.