NFL player inspires kids

Published 10:10 pm Friday, July 21, 2017

A professional football player was in Suffolk on Thursday evening to inspire kids at a pre-season football camp.

Khalid Abdullah, 22, a Newport News native who just signed with the New York Giants after graduating from James Madison University, was at Peanut Park for the pre-season camp of the Straighten Up and Fly Right organization.

The running back said he feels it is important to help motivate the kids.

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“I came from a similar situation,” he said. “Anything these kids have been through, I’ve been through it too. I want them to be able to see someone living, breathing, in the flesh who is a testament of success.”

Abdullah met Amos Riddick when his mother and Riddick were in the police academy together. Amos Riddick’s brother, Tyron Riddick, is the founder and chief executive officer of Straighten Up and Fly Right, which sponsors football, cheer, step, marching band and other activities for hundreds of young people. Amos Riddick’s Raw Fitness also participated in Thursday’s event.

At James Madison, Abdullah was an All-American and member of the 2016 national championship team. As a senior, he led the country with 1,809 rushing yards, 22 rushing touchdowns and 25 total touchdowns.

Abdullah majored in sports management and minored in business at James Madison. He encouraged the kids at Peanut Park on Thursday to pay attention to their education as well as to football.

“Not many people make it to the NFL, so you have to rely on your education,” he said. “If you do, hooray. But these kids are multifaceted. They’re not just a one-trick pony. There’s a brilliant doctor out here; there’s a brilliant lawyer out here.

“You just want to speak life into them,” he added.

Tyron Riddick echoed the message for those who succeed in football enough to get a scholarship.

“Football is definitely paying your ticket to college,” he said.

Registration for this year’s Straighten Up and Fly Right program ends Aug. 1. Call 514-1156 or email for more information.