Richard Sherman talks often of the lessons he learned from growing up in Compton, California, just south of Los Angeles, and the impact those experiences have had in shaping his adult life -- which this week included him becoming a father for the first time.
Tonight, you can watch Sherman revisit some of those experiences of Compton while helping a kid who has lost both parents to AIDS in the fourth annual "NFL Characters Unite" documentary that debuts tonight at 7 p.m. Pacific Time on USA Network.
The film, produced by Charlie Ebersol and Mike Lanigan’s The Company, is part of the cable network's award-winning Characters Unite public service campaign to combat bullying, prejudice and discrimination. This year’s documentary features Sherman, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles and Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams.
NBC's Emmy-award-winning commentator Cris Collinsworth, who just called Sunday's Seahawks-Patriots Super Bowl, narrates the documentary.
According to the film's publicists, in NFL Characters Unite Sherman meets Tevin, a teen struggling to stay on the right the track. Tevin is now being raised by his 24-year-old sister. After the death of his parents, his twin older brothers have been in and out of juvenile detention centers. Tevin desperately does not want to fall victim to a life of poverty and crime and is focused on staying in school. His brothers and the kids in the neighborhood pick on him for not following them on the streets. They call him a loner and say he has no friends.
The film shows Sherman, who got out of Compton to graduate from Stanford, joining with Carroll at the Seahawks' headquarters in Renton to encourage Tevin to remain committed to keeping out of trouble. Knowing Tevin’s interest in cooking, Sherman arranges for him to participate in a local YMCA Teen Leadership Program and teach an activity in baking. Tevin receives a five-year scholarship to continue to attend the YMCA, where he can be safe, meet more like-minded kids and pursue his dreams.
“Growing up in Compton, you just deal with different things than I guess a regular neighborhood would deal with," Sherman said last Wednesday in Phoenix, four days before Super Bowl 49. "You deal with a lot more adversity, a lot more different pressures I guess. Adversity, different things, diversity, different people trying to pull you in different directions.
"I didn’t realize every place wasn’t like that until you leave, until you leave and you visit other neighborhoods and you realize that other neighborhoods don’t just have drug dealers around and crack addicts walking down the street, and violence on a daily basis, police helicopters and things roaming around. Once you learn that, you’re kind of grateful for that environment in which you were brought up because you know if you can survive there, you can survive anywhere.”