Marshawn Lynch knows what it’s like to not have a lot.
The former Seahawks running back was born and raised in Oakland by a single mother, Delisa, while his father struggled with drug addiction and was in and out of prison.
In the North Oakland neighborhood of Goldenville where Lynch grew up, he wasn’t allowed out of the gates of his apartment. Drug deals, shootings and prostitution took place just four blocks down the road.
Delisa was determined to make sure Marshawn and his three siblings stayed off the streets, and football was his way out.
It took a strong mother to mold Lynch into the Seahawks’ stiff-arming hero, an All-American, an All-Pro running back and Super Bowl champion, but he’s never forgotten where he’s came from.
“It started off where it was just about my neighborhood,” Lynch told SB Nation’s Field Gulls podcast. “And I seen that I had love and respect outside of my neighborhood. So, these other areas, I try to get in and do some sh*t that when I’m here. …I understand that they struggle.”
That’s why he’s partnered up with Subway and fellow Cal Alum Keenan Allen to make a difference in the lives of high school players around the nation who have dreams of going pro one day.
Lynch notes that because of the coronavirus pandemic, many students haven’t even had the opportunity to take the field this season or play in front of recruiters.
“I look at these situations and they already feel like they’re at a disadvantage just because of their environment,” Lynch explained. “And then on top of their environment where they don’t get no love, and probably left behind, no one paying attention to, then you throw a pandemic on the top of it. I know it’s really hard for those kids. So, I feel like Subway can really show a bright spot. I wish it would turn out to it for all the kids, but for the ones that actually submit, and then the ones that actually win, just being able to have that on that mind and on that conscious that they aren’t left behind.”
Players from all over the country will be able to submit a video showcasing their best pro moves, craziest catches, insane tackles and more to be entered. Teens 15-18 are encouraged to submit their own entries, but coaches, teachers, and teammates can also submit entries on their behalf.
20 winners will be selected based off of a three-part scoring system: 30% number of votes a video receives, 10% on how well the entre meets the contest theme and 60% will be based off of scoring from Lynch and Allen. Each winner gets a $1,500 scholarship courtesy of Subway, a personalized video from Lynch and an invitation to attend a virtual awards event with Allen.
Lynch says it’s possible some of the videos could end up in the hands of college recruiters as well.
“We’re not the only ones that see these videos,” Lynch said. “Once they get put out, maybe that college recruiter will go and look through some of these like oh, maybe we missed this player or this college coach will say, hey this guy’s in our backyard, why we wasn’t recruiting him?”
While Beast Mode has been making an impact in the lives of disenfranchised youth through his Fam 1st Family Foundation for years, the Seahawks legend has a little more time on his hands these days to use his platform to inspire others. He hopes to become more embedded in communities by giving back at a higher level.
“At the end of the day, this thing just goes full circle,” Lynch explained. “I mean, being able to do something I always do, which is give back to the community, but now I’m able to do it on a bigger scale.”