Excitement, laughter and whole lot of inspiration filled the Lory Student Center Monday evening as two-time Super Bowl champion addressed the Colorado State University community about discrimination, work-ethic and life after football.
Hines Ward, the first Korean American football MVP, came to CSU to speak to the community about his struggles with biracial adversity and how these experiences set him on the road to success.
“It was tough growing up as a mixed-race kid,” Ward said. “I didn’t ask to be biracial and I was ashamed (as a child). … I was lucky I had sports to help me cope. In sports, people didn’t look at my race, they accepted me because I was a good player.”
Ward said he attributed the majority of his success to his mother. He said he would sometimes get teased about his mom’s racial identity growing up.
He shared a story about his mother crying because she realized he was embarrassed about their race. Once he saw the pain this caused his mother, Ward changed his attitude. He said as a result of his mother’s hard work and values, Ward was raised with a mentality to always work as hard as he could, to challenge himself to be a better person.
“I’m happy now to be Korean American,” Ward said. “I get the best of both worlds.”
In addition to addressing racial adversity, Ward also commented on discrimination related to sexual orientation.
“We live in a world where the locker room is filled with people all raised differently,” Ward said. “It’s a shame to look at someone’s sexual orientation and judge them by this. In Michael Sam’s case I think he shouldn’t be discriminated against for being different. My advice is that he keeps working his butt off.”
Nick Callender, a junior studying sociology and left tackle for the CSU football team, came to hear Ward speak again after hearing Ward talk to the team earlier in the day.
“His work ethic as a whole inspired me,” Callender said.
Calvin Spond, a freshmen studying computer information systems, wanted to come see Ward to learn about the struggles he faced in football as well as his life.
“I grew up watching him on T.V., he has been a role model for me growing up,” Calvin said.
Ward said he wants to influence kids today off the football field. Ward ended his lecture before answering questions.
“I want to be more than just a football player,” Ward said. “I want to be a leader to the youth, especially biracial kids. I want to give them inspiration that they can do all kinds of things.”
Collegian Reporter Keoni Grundhauser can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @kgrundhauser.