ONE37pm: You mentioned growing up in a group home, you’ve had to overcome countless hurdles of adversity to get to where you are. Can you tell us a little about those early struggles you dealt with and what’s pushed you the most throughout those tough times ?
Antonio: My entire life has been adversity since the day I was born. From being born with crack in my system, my mother was a drug addict, overcoming that. Being homeless, abandoned, abused, physically abused, mentally abused. Anything you can think of I pretty much endured it. Never knew my father. He was imprisoned when I was three months old for murder, never met him, don’t know anything about him. I was taken away from my mother at the age of 8 and placed into CPS (child protective services). I bounced around from group home to group home, juvenile detention. I was an angry kid, obviously being taken away you’re going to be an angry kid. On April 9th, 2004, I was placed in a group-home out in Phoenix and it ended up being my long-term home. I was the longest tenured kid there, obviously I did a lot of bad things growing up. I ended up going to jail for a few months, lost all my scholarships and got kicked out of the group home I thought would never get rid of me. I was the only kid who was going to go to college, they’d never had a kid do that because statistically you end up dead, homeless, or in prison and I was going to be the kid who defied those odds. I got put into another group home, I was on house arrest for about five weeks, ultimately my high school coach took me in and I lived with him my senior year. Bounced back, rehabilitated, finished top of my class with straight A’s and gained my scholarship back. I went to UNLV and played football there.
ONE37pm: I think it’s really one of the most incredible comeback stories in sports. When you’re out there fighting you’re fighting for the millions of kids who are in those same circumstances. Thank you for continuing to keep fighting for those who can’t.
Antonio: There’s about 400,000-500,000 kids in the system in the United States alone. I don’t know the numbers exactly world-wide but that’s in the United States alone. I’m very passionate about being a role model for those kids. If they can look up to me and say “If he was able to overcome this and defy those odds why can’t I?” Everyone has their own story with what they’re dealing with. Whether it’s worse than what I endured or if it’s better it doesn’t matter, everyone has their own story. If I can be that light at the end of the tunnel for these kids and they can look up to me, that’s what I care about. If I can make a difference in these kids' lives, that’s truly something I’m passionate about and I will never stop fighting for that cause.