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Walter Payton

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Walter Payton

Many athletes have done great things for their sports. They break records and accomplish amazing feats. In doing so, they make countless amounts of money. Most of the, though, spend their money on things like clothes, cars, and mansions. That is a bad thing because they have worked hard to get it. On the other hand, a select few of these amazing athletes have used their money and fame for better purposes. One example of this is Walter Payton, who has spent countless amounts of his time and money on people who were not as fortunate as him.

Walter Payton knew what it was like growing up in a poor family. His family did not have a lot of money, and they both worked long hours just to make ends meet. He grew up in a small town and since he did not have much money, he enjoyed playing sports and loved to play the drums. When he was in high school, he started to play football and discovered he had a knack for it. He stuck with it and went on to play in college for Jackson State University. After he was done with his amazing college career, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears fourth overall in the 1975 draft. He was destined for greatness and said moments after he was drafted, "When I get through with Chicago, they'll be loving me" (Bearshistory.com). This foreshadowed great things to come. Some of these great things would be the many records he broke, including the all-time rushing record, most 1,000 yard rushing seasons, and single game rushing record to name a few.

He left the NFL after the 1987 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. After he retired is when he truly showed his greatness. Payton started a charity for kids at Christmas time. He showed his selflessness throughout his life, when he refused to neither benefit from nor reap notoriety due to his connection with his charity. In fact, his generosity was not made public until after his death in 1999. Consequently, not only should Walter Payton be remembered for his football excellence, he should also be remembered for his charitable contributions to society.

On July 25, 1955, a legend was born in the small town of Columbia, Mississippi. Walter Payton was born to Peter and Alyne Payton. He had a brother Eddie and a sister Pam(Bearshistory.com). The town in which Walter grew up has a history. In the early 1900s the Pearl River, which runs through Columbia, was the lifeline, you could say, for the city. It helped move the mass amounts of lumber the city had to offer. This helped the people of the city prosper because there was more jobs available than the citizens could fill. The town, to say the least, was bustling. The river was also cruel in a way, because as soon as it brought prosperity and wealth to the citizens of Columbia, it took it away when it filled up with silt and was no longer navigable for the large ships needed to carry the lumber. By the 1950s the city was a ghost town compared to what it was in the earlier years. The only jobs left were service work, farming, and the Pioneer Recovery System plant, which claimed to be the largest in the world. This is where both of the parents of Payton worked and could barely manage to scrape by (Never Die Easy 19, 20).

For Walter and his brother Eddie, they spent their time doing what most kids do. They enjoyed playing as many sports as possible like basketball, baseball, and football. They always ran out of school and went throughout the town looking to start up a game with the other local kids. Since they did not have Playstation like we do today, they took advantage of the woods and loved to hike, fish, and explore. One of their mother’s unusual yet affected methods of keeping them out of trouble, was to have a pile of top soil dropped off every summer and they had to spread it out little by little throughout the yard (Bearshistory.com).

Everyone must start their career at one point in time and for Payton it all started in his sophomore year at the all-black John J. Jefferson High School. Some may wonder why he did not play during his freshman year. The reason was because he had a love for the drums, and was also very involved in Boy Scouts. After he eventually decided to play football during his sophomore year, he and everyone watching immediately discovered he had a knack for it. This was shown on his first official carry, when he ran for a 65-yard touchdown. By the end of his first year his was considered by many an All-Star and was still only 15. He continued to play football at John Jefferson for another year but then transferred to Columbia High School, which was not all-black like John Jefferson. It could have been a difficult but he made it without any problems (Great Athletes). He said the reason it was so easy was, "Racial problem are for grown ups"(Bearshistory.com).

After High School he went on to join his brother Eddie at Jackson State University, who would later become a kick returner for Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, and Minnesota (Bearshitory.com). Throughout his college career he had many achievements. Not all of them came from the athletic aspect though. He also excelled academically and later got his Bachelors Degree in Communications. As many suspect his football career also excelled at Jackson State. He became a two-time Little All-American after setting nine school records and scored 66 touchdowns and rushed for 3,563 yards (Sportingnews.com). During his time there he had many highlights, one of which was when he scored seven touchdowns and two two-point conversions in one game, scoring forty-four points. It is no wonder that he won player of the year (Great Athletes). Another record broken by Payton was Leo Lewis' with 66 touchdowns in a college career (Sportingnews.com).

After finishing college he went into the 1975 draft. He was picked fourth overall in the first round by the Chicago Bears, which was a franchise struggling in the running back position ever since Gale Sayers retired. Many people wonder why he was not picked first. The Bears and Payton seemed to be the perfect match and Payton spent his entire 13 year career there. Moments after he was picked he was quoted saying, "When I get through with Chicago, they'll be loving me"(Bearshistory.com). He was right but that did not seem apparent in his first game as a professional. He carried the ball eight times for zero yards. Many were beginning to doubt him and his first season was definitely not what was suspected, although he was a rookie. He gave the fans some hope when he ended the season with a bang, carrying the ball 20 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. This was the best performance since Gale Sayers. He finished the 1975 season with 675 yards and seven touchdowns. This was the worst of his career and he also missed the only

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