And if he has his way, he’ll help make sure other kids don’t have to travel the same troubled paths he has.
One month after the Ravens’ victory in Super Bowl XLVII, Pierce paid a visit to The Baby Sitter Child Care Center on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown on Thursday afternoon. He held a brief but poignant question-and-answer session with youth at the center before signing autographs.
“Anything for the kids,” Pierce said. “Giving back is one of the most important things that anybody who’s made it and has become somebody can do.”
During the Q&A, Pierce was honest about spending time in jail while in high school. He later said that if he had not received an athletic scholarship to attend Temple University, “I’d probably be on the streets.”
Instead, he graduated from Glen Mills High School — where the Philadelphia courts often send juvenile delinquents for rehabilitation as well as education — and went on to star at Temple. Local fans may remember a game in 2011 in which he ran for five touchdowns in the Owls’ 38-7 drubbing of Maryland.
The Ravens selected Pierce in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. In his rookie year he served as a capable backup to starter Ray Rice, running for 532 yards on 108 carries (4.9 yards per carry) with a touchdown.
Pierce carried 12 times for 33 yards in the Super Bowl.
Pierce knows all about the bright lights, but he never forgets where he’s been.
“I feel my story can impact a lot of people,” Pierce said. “When anyone asks (about my past), I tell them I came from the bottom and worked my way up to do something I love.”
Among other highlights of the Q&A session:
* Pierce reminded the youth, “Don’t hang around people who can get you in trouble.”
* He stressed the importance of an education: “Good grades keep you on the field.” When the long odds of becoming a professional athlete were brought up, he added, “You have to have a backup plan.”
* When asked what’s the most important thing about being part of a team, Pierce answered, “Respect.” He mentioned how he had to come in as a rookie, show respect to his Ravens teammates and then earn their respect in practice and on the field.
* On his Super Bowl experience: “I can’t explain. There were so many emotions going on. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, other than my son being born.”
Pierce is friends with Theresa Glenn, the owner of The Baby Sitter center, and they arranged Thursday’s appearance. Youth who are part of the Lead4Life, Inc. Mentoring Program, based in Hagerstown and led by Angie St. Clair, also participated.
“He wanted to give back and talk to some kids about heading in the right direction,” St. Clair said. “Theresa has this budding business, so it’s a great opportunity to have him here. ... The kids that we service have been identified as high-risk kids needing guidance. They don’t typically get opportunities like this.”