Spiraling Upward Former NFLer Frank Murphy’s life was not one to inspire to—until it was By Mi chae l J . Pa l l e r i no I t was in a hotel room on the road during a Miami Dolphins’ preseason game in 2006 when Frank Murphy says the consequences from a life of shaky decisions finally caught up to him. There were some bright spots. In
being arrested for armed robbery at age 15, Murphy’s life sat on hold for nearly a year, as he faced a potential 5-to-10 jail sentence. “My Fake ID pushed me further and further down a road I did not want to go,” Murphy recalls. “It almost cost me my life.” It was the first of many times that Murphy would persevere. But the problem with carrying a Fake ID is that it is too easy to fall back. With each slip up came a guardian angel. The custodian at his community college who told him he had a light over his life that would one day help him do good. Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy who gave him another second chance. But each opportunity was fraught with setback. Flash forward to that hotel and all of the ups and downs along the way—back to the teammate staring Murphy down. “I read all the stories about you, man,” his teammate said. “I heard what you did. You’re no star player, but yet everybody comes to you for advice. Did you do everything they said you did? Why?” In that moment, they bonded. The player with a seemingly endless supply of second chances and the one who needed help. Answers were what he wanted Murphy to provide. “We talked; we prayed; we made it together,” Murphy recalls. Murphy eventually decided to put his life into words. The Man Behind the Helmet details his extraordinary rise from the inner cities to motivational speaker, author, and founder of Mentoring with Purpose Charity, a non-profit organization that provides educational and community outreach programs for today’s youth. Murphy, who permanently moved to Atlanta earlier this year to be a part of the growing entertainment community, is staying busy. Along with another work, The Secret Playbook, in the works, there is his digital curriculum called Mentoring with Purpose, Character and Life Skills. And complementing The Man Behind the Helmet book is a stage play (that was started in Tampa) set to begin across Atlanta, followed by a movie. “I am doing this for the compassion, the legacy,” Murphy says. “I want to encourage today’s kids to drop that Fake ID and use their Real ID. I want to show them what it is like to have compassion, because that is the only you can do something, is from the heart. I have seen too many kids without direction, so sharing my story is a way to help.”
1997, he was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-American first-team, and “National Player of the Year” at Garden City Community College in Kansas where he won the Division III equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. After transferring to Kansas State, he played well enough in nearly two seasons for the Wildcats to get drafted in the sixth round by the Chicago Bears. He bounced in and out of the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL), before finally ending up in Miami. But in that hotel room, where a roommate took his side of the room and bed, Murphy swelled with rage. To make matters worse, his roommate was staring at him with a look somewhere between “yes-I-took-your-spot” to “man-what’s-your-problem?”. To understand the why, you have to go back. Before Murphy’s football exploits; the accolades, the potential; Murphy’s story was much different. Growing up in a two-parent middle- class household in Jacksonville, Florida, the inner-city crowd saw that as an oddity. Often bullied, he sought refuge by raging against the norm. Guns. Armed robbery. Drug running. Jail. “I was about 11 years old when these two guys started picking on me,” Murphy says. “I was furious. So I went to my room and made a decision — that was never going to happen to me again.” Choosing to adopt what Murphy calls a Fake ID, his new persona would take him down many dark roads. After
I have seen too many kids without direction, so sharing my story is a way to help.
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