Dwayne Allen could have been one of those kids. Raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina by a single mom who gave birth to his oldest sister at age 12, he is the youngest of seven kids. His mother, who he calls “one of the strongest females I’ve ever known,” worked hard to provide for her family.
Still, raising five girls and two boys takes more than strength. It takes a village. And sometimes, the village was the problem. Allen was led astray early on. He got into trouble with the law. And he was sent to an alternative high school because of it.
There, Allen attended classes with students who had committed crimes much more egregious than his. But it was during the second week of his freshman year that everything changed.
The head football coach approached him and asked if he played football. Allen’s response, “No sir, I’m a basketball player.” He thought that was the end of it. Until the man returned a few minutes later with something that would change his life forever…a ten dollar bill.
“He tells me, ‘You can take this ten dollars and go buy a pack of dope or you can take this ten dollars and go get a physical and I’ll see you at practice on Monday.’”
Allen said his coach was the first guy to ever invest in him. It wasn’t until his senior year, after becoming a star player for the Terry Sanford Bulldogs, that he asked him why.
The coach, who is more like a dad to him now, described it like this…
“When I saw you walking the halls, I saw someone who was in trouble. It was my job, not only as a head football coach but as a Christian, to help that troubled youth out and lead him down the right path.”
And it all came full circle in 2012, when Dwayne Allen was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. He attended a workshop on starting a foundation, hosted by former Colt Tarik Glenn. Glenn used his foundation, Dream Alive as an example. Allen was interested immediately.
“His story was very similar to mine. And it felt like something that I wanted to be a part of.”
As a young player, Dwayne Allen has taken an active role in the Indianapolis community, specifically with troubled youth. It’s something he can relate to, drawing on his own experience. And that of someone else, his mother.
“That’s something she instilled in me early on. Whenever you get in a position to give back and whenever you get a platform where it can be heard, then speak as loud as you can.”
Dream Alive sees potential in troubled kids. Potential Dwayne Allen is still fulfilling himself.
His goal is simple: to be the greatest.
He’s off to a great start.
Both on the field…and off.