Rams fans in St. Louis are hurting right now. The team is moving to Los Angeles. Most retrospectives you’ll see and hear will focus on the field – particularly the Greatest Show on Turf.
What you may not hear about are the stories of the real St. Louis Rams. My adult life has been committed to kids and several Rams have helped immensely along the way. This series is for them. Over the next three days, I’ll give give you a glimpse into the best players and people to ever wear a Rams uniform.
In 1998, I worked for Lift For Life Gym, an after school weightlifting program based in North St. Louis. One of my first assignments that fall involved taking a large group of kids to a haunted house. Rams quarterback Tony Banks met us at the haunted house and went through several times with different kids.
Tony seemed to go everywhere with us. He showed up at movie outings, birthday parties and whatever else we had going on. The kids weren’t concerned with how much money Tony made or how many touchdowns he threw. It only mattered to them that he showed up.
At 22, Tony’s involvement taught me a lot about what’s really important to kids and helped shape my career. When it comes to young people, your presence matters more than your pocketbook.
The team did not win many games with Tony under center and 1999 saw a new herd of Rams come to the Gateway City. At Lift For Life, we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to connect with another player the way we had with Tony.
Our executive director, Marshall Cohen, asked me to write a letter to Marshall Faulk, who had just come to the team via trade from Indianapolis. We thought maybe we could get him to connect with the program in some fashion.
My letter found its way in and the Marshall Plan was enacted. Marshall Faulk helped propel Lift For Life forward in a big way. His generosity not only supported Lift For Life Gym, he paved the way for Lift For Life Academy as well, St. Louis’ first independent charter school.
I asked Marshall what made him consider my letter over the thousands he received all the time. He said Lift For Life reminded him of the after school program he attended as a kid in New Orleans.
Marshall taught me that the effect you have on kids can be profound. You never know how great they can be and how much they will be able to help their communities one day.
On Thursday, check back in and learn more about my daughter’s favorite receiver and St. Louis’ No. 1 “Draft” pick.