Freeman uses faith to motivatePublished 2:32pm Thursday, May 30, 2013
All Eltoro Freeman ever wanted was a chance.
Whether it was becoming an All-State linebacker at Benjamin Russell High School, a member of the 2010 BCS National Champion Auburn Tigers, or having a positive effect on a disenfranchised youth, Freeman only wanted one shot.
These days, he’s making the most of his opportunities by using his own experiences to help motivate and empower the local kids of Alexander City.
“Sonny Wilson gave me a chance to work with the kids,” Freeman said. “So I coach in the city football and basketball leagues. I hold Two1 camps throughout the year, for kids who want to get better in speed, strength, and agility, whatever they want to improve.”
Most recently, Freeman has served as a motivational speaker for children who come from tough backgrounds.
After speaking at the United Methodist Children’s Home, he said he wanted to teach the kids that they don’t have to be products of their environments.
“The main thing I wanted to stress to them is that you shouldn’t allow particular circumstances or situations to dictate your future,” He said. “A lot of them came from neglected, abusive backgrounds. I’ve come from a tough background, and I wanted to teach them that they can break that cycle and that life doesn’t have to be that way.”
Freeman was one of five kids, raised in a single-parent home for much of his childhood.
His mother, Greta, worked three jobs to support the children while his father Rome battled alcoholism, eventually triumphing after finding Christ.
“Since then, he’s been the best dad I could ask for,” Freeman said.
But while his upbringing seems to have had a happy ending, the journey itself was more than taxing.
“There was a time where I had a lot of struggles and a lot of doubt,” he said. “I grew up with a lot of pain, and I grew up seeing and hearing things that a child shouldn’t see or hear.”
Freeman turned to sports and and excelled on the gridiron.
He eventually landed at Auburn, which became one of the most important times of his life, as it led him to strengthen his faith.
“My experience at Auburn was life-changing,” he said. “Everything at Auburn was laid out for me to succeed, and two weeks into fall practice I became a starter, but I got hurt and it all went downhill from there. What it came down to is that I could either quit or keep fighting. I used that experience to grow closer to God, because I needed someone to lean on and talk to. That experience taught me to man up, and it taught me that you have to go get it done when things don’t go your way.”
After a strong senior season, the NFL came calling.
While that hasn’t gone as Freeman has hoped, he said that he has found a new focus: helping to mentor the youths of Alexander City.
“My struggle are no different than anyone else’s,” he said. “I’ve learned that I have the control to break that cycle, and I hope the kids I work with know that they do, too.”
Freeman credits Auburn, Wilson, his parents, Sherry Pritchard, Dr. Beverly Price, Cassandra Freeman and Tracy Tolbert for helping him become who he is now and said he hopes to use those lessons to be a positive influence for the kids.
Freeman said the number one thing that has helped him in mentoring children is trusting in God.
“You let him lead the way, and you can’t lose,” he said. “You have to have faith over fear.”
While Freeman is currently in the midst of negotiations with the New Orleans Saints, he said that he understands what he is meant to do, and no matter what he will continue to try and be a positive role model for kids.
“God showed me my purpose,” he said. “The opportunity to change one child’s life is the biggest thing for me. It’s bigger than making 100 tackles for the best team in the NFL. If the NFL doesn’t work out, I’ll keep doing what I am doing.”