The Real Athlete Blog


Athlete Advice

Athletes Offering Their Advice...

Charlie Villanueva - Detroit Pistons, NBA

"As a young man, you have to be mature about the position you’re in. I know it’s hard because for most guys, you practically become rich and famous overnight. There’s a lot of temptation out there, especially when you’re out traveling on the road, wanting to explore new cities… My advice is don’t get caught up, it will catch up to you, and it won’t be a pretty sight. I’ve learned from seeing others make the same mistake time after time. Don’t get caught up with the lifestyle, it is only your profession. You dictate how you live your own personal life. You are the NBA Player; the NBA Player is not you. So stay focused and in control of your personal surroundings."

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Tony Gonzalez - Atlanta Falcons, NFL

“I just felt a whole lot better and it’s the reason, I’m playing today. And there is no way I think I could have been able to play this long and this effectively without changing my diet the way I did. So, all those scares... Everything happens for a reason and I know it helped me. And also, it gave me that whole health awareness and it helped me go out there and spread the word of health.”

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LaVar Arrington - Retired NFL Player

“I feel like if you’re extremely precise in what you’re becoming and you’re professional at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, even before you get to that level, you’re raising your chances of becoming a professional.”

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Detlef Schrempf - Former NBA Player

"Have the right advisor, build a plan, do a cash flow analysis to see what you have/need to live comfortably for the rest of your life – assuming you will not earn another dime after playing ball – and then stick to it. Make sure you have your estate planning in place and start college funds for your kid(s). If charitably-inclined, come up with the right plan that will not leave you with the regret of having to spend money and time on something you might get criticized for."

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Matt Birk - Baltimore Ravens, NFL

"Everything happens for a reason. I am so grateful that I came into a situation where I could be a reserve and learn from some great guys in front of me. Very few guys are ready to step in and play as rookies, no matter how good they think they are. More important than learning the game, it's important to watch the veteran guys and learn what it means to 'be a pro.' That's what will keep you in the league for a long time. If you play football, you have to realize it's a team game, and whatever role the team wants you to fill, that's what you do. It's not tennis or golf where it's all about you."

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Corey Jackson - Former NFL Player

“I almost didn’t do it. I almost didn’t have an opportunity to live out my dreams and reach the expectations that I had for myself. The opportunity to overcome that fear, step out of that fear, and to get on the bus actually led to me experience my greatest possible life.”

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Lawrence "Larry" Harris - Former NFL Player

“It really helps you be a better athlete in the present because you know you have something to fall back on and it takes the pressure off. People play a lot of mental games with you and you are able to takes it in stride much easier when you know have something else on the horizon. It’s just good to have a plan. Even if you have a long career, you want to have something else you can do other than abuse your body.”

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Garrison "The Rocket" Sanborn - Buffalo Bills, NFL

“I think our season kind of said it best if you look at the in-depth as opposed to the surface, that we’re not quitters. You’ll see that we didn’t give up on ourselves or each other, and that we’re going to be able to compete this year.”

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Samyr Laine - Olympic Triple Jumper

"Perhaps the most important piece of advice I could give is to not make it entirely about the track team. Make sure you're going to be getting the academic and social experience you want by exploring professors and classes and trying to mix, mingle and talk to current students. At the end of the day, if you're not enjoying things outside of the track, your performance on the track will no doubt suffer. On top of that, make sure that you have a coach who you feel is knowledgeable and interested in your progress. There is no substitute for a coach who knows their stuff and is willing to do what it takes to make sure that you improve. You'll benefit a great deal from it and you'll of course enjoy the fact that you're getting better than you were in high school."

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Darran Bilton - Elite Marathoner & 5-Time London Marathon Masters Champion

"Listen to advice from others, but only have one coach. Also, intrinsic motivation will always win over extrinsic motivation. In other words, love what you are doing irrespective of whether you are successful or not."

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Daryll Clark - Former Penn State QB

"I don’t think of it as pressure because at the end of the day it is still another football game. When you buy into the hype and listen to every single thing that every single person has to say, then your head is in the absolute wrong place."

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Whitney Engen - Former UNC Women's Soccer Player

"I think the biggest piece of advice that I can offer is that you can take your soccer career as far as you want to take it. If someone else is telling you to go practice and you do not want to do it, then maybe playing at the highest level is not for you. That is ok too though because there are several people who play soccer for the pure enjoyment of the sport. If you find yourself addicted to the game, cannot get enough of it, and want to reach the highest level, I would recommend applying yourself wholeheartedly to everything that you do. Do not ever feel like you have completely learned the game, as soccer is always evolving and getting better. If you push yourself and accept nothing less than your best, I think you will go far."

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Norman Nolan - Oveseas Professional Basketball Player

"The first thing I would tell them is that it's not as easy as they think. It’s not for everyone. It’s definitely an adjustment, and if you're not willing to learn and adopt to other cultures, then you won’t make it. The food is different, the language is different, and the whole attitude of the people is different. Second, I would tell them to work as hard as they can because unlike the NBA there are no guarantees and you're only as good as your last moment."

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