How LeBron, Nipsey Hussle inspired Armstead off the field

Arik Armstead

SANTA CLARA -- Arik Armstead worked his way into being a first-round draft pick by the 49ers at the University of Oregon. He then worked his way into being a vital part of San Francisco's defense, earning a five-year, $85 million contract extension in March of 2020 after recording a career-high 10 sacks in the 2019 season. But it's the work the defensive end has done off the field that just might mean the most to him. 

The Sacramento native is the 49ers' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the second straight season. Named after the Hall of Fame running back, the award is given annually to a player who shows excellence on the field as well as off it with his community service. 

"It's huge," Armstead said Thursday. "It brings up a lot of emotions. It definitely feels good to be recognized. When you do work in the community, you don't think of recognition or the rewards of it. But to be able to share that with my family and be honored for the work that I'm doing and that my family is doing that I can't do without everybody else is a huge honor and very humbling for me."

Armstead welcomed his baby daughter into the world this summer and admitted that having a daughter has been a huge reason for his continued work in the community and push for equity for all races and genders. This is his seventh season in the NFL and he said Thursday that two people who also are Girl Dads have been a big inspiration for him. 


They're two figures who are more than well known but far from a football field.

"I've definitely been inspired by players, I've been inspired by other people," he said. "Two people that inspire me off the field would be what LeBron [James] does off the court and also Nipsey Hussle was a big inspiration for me in everything he did in his community in Crenshaw in terms of never leaving his community and giving back to his community in various ways -- creating jobs, creating economic growth, creating educational growth in his hometown. 

"Those are two figures I would say inspire me from a philanthropy and giving back to the community standpoint."

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His 49ers teammates certainly have taken notice, too. Linebacker Fred Warner has called Armstead an inspiration, which means more to Armstead than he can explain. His goal now is for all walks of life to feel the need to serve their communities and bring as many diverse voices to the table as possible. 

"That's great to hear," Armstead said. "I try to lead and do everything I can to use my platform and my resources to benefit others. It's good to hear that my peers and my teammates are recognizing it and that it's inspiring them to do their own work, which is great because we all have different things we can offer to society.

"My experiences and my viewpoint and how I want to give back is completely different from the next person. If we all collectively do that in our own way, we can make society better and our world a special place."

There's no telling how long Armstead's career on the football field will last. His impact off it is endless. 

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