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DeMarcus Ware overcame surroundings, took advantage of second chance to reach Canton

Former Cowboys and Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware gave a powerful 16-minute, 18-second speech Saturday as he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He told a story he had never shared publicly about having a gun pointed at his head after an altercation in a parking lot while in college.

“I was attending a parking lot party when I was visiting home,” Ware said. “My uncle was in his car, and without warning he was knocked across his head with a gun. A knife dropped to the ground, and I picked it up. When I looked up, all I could see was the potential shooter’s eyes and a gun barrel pressed to my head.

“I heard my family scream, ‘Don’t kill him.’ There was an eerie silence after which I simply said, ‘This isn’t me,’ and I dropped the knife. At that moment, I knew God gave me a second chance, and I had to do something with it. That was my turning point.”

Ware, drafted 11th overall by Dallas in 2005, spent nine seasons with the Cowboys and three with the Broncos. He became the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader with 117 and finished his career with 138.5.

It somehow took two tries before Ware got his bust in Canton.

“From the moment I was born, God put me on a path to this jacket . . . on a path to Canton,” Ware began. “People say that you’re a product of your environment, but that’s only if you don’t know what to do with it. I used mine to put me here, just like all the other guys behind me. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a silver spoon or not, we all decided to be great by choice.

“I was blinded by my environment as a child. Domestic violence, drugs, and gangs. But those surroundings taught me to be relentless, limitless and resilient. The reality is you are a product of your own thinking, your own mind, and you must to learn how to persevere.”

Ware saved seats for former teammates Marion Barber, Demaryius Thomas and Ronnie Hillman, all of whom have died, and got choked up as he remembered them.

He also forgave his father for never being there while he was growing up. His dad, who was in attendance, since has told Ware he was sorry.

“This is and has been God’s work through me,” Ware said in closing.