PFC Rookie Blogs Terry Hawthorne CB Illinois

I think everyone has a story of struggle, survival and triumph; and mine is no different. I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, a small city close to the Mississippi River and a bridge away from St. Louis, Missouri. As a child, I saw it all; I saw shootings and robberies in broad daylight; I witnessed friends who have been shot and passed on; and I have lost friends with extreme talents and gifts to the criminal system.

Living in the Robinson Projects, I saw many things that I am sure my mom and family would have preferred me never to see. But that was just a chapter in my childhood; it is not my life story. I was fortunate that in the midst of all the things I saw, I had the desire in me to stay away from negativity and focus on things that I knew I was good at, and I knew at an early age, I was great at sports. I would play baseball and football in a nearby field with a group of friends. Other times we would race or go to the local pool. I always involved myself in activities that grew my surroundings. I got involved in camps, clubs, and traveling teams that showed me that there was more out there than East St. Louis, Illinois.

Additionally, coupled with my strong faith in God, I always had family and friends that reminded me of my character, potential, and athleticism.

This also served as motivation to stay out of trouble and to keep progressing. As I got older, my confidence grew and my success in sports validated my talents in sports. In high school, I played every sport and had success in all of them. One of the moments I will always cherish is winning the state championship at East St. Louis High School. The championship provided the upward trend for me to follow in college and when I committed to the University of Illinois, I kept working on and off the field to craft my skill, refine my talents, and develop into a top-performing athlete that could one day get to the NFL.

After competing in the combine, I felt very confident about my performance. I was blessed and humbled to know that there were many teams that finally got to see all the effort come through my drills and skill/strength tests; something that I have been working at since the age of 7. Pro Day was a great day; I got to see fellow and former teammates and be apart of the camaraderie that helped me fight during pivotal and challenging parts of my senior season.

The University of Illinois will always hold a special place in my heart and I am thankful for all of those that support and continue to support me as I focus on achieving another one of my athletic goals: to play within the NFL. I have enjoyed speaking with coaches and scouts from the 32 teams. Each interview or call just continues to ignite the seven year old in me running around that open field in East St. Louis.

I’m glad to say that I am now working on the next couple chapters of my story and I can’t wait to see how they unfold.