Life stories like that of Darren Waller don’t happen very often in sports. He knows it and he wants to use it to help others who are on the verge of ruining their own future.
With his life in order and his NFL career now flourishing beyond the wildest expectations, the Las Vegas Raiders superstar tight end is doing his greatest job off the field helping at-risk youth in his career. new hometown.
The official name of its foundation is: The Darren Waller Foundation, Giving Hope to Youth at Risk!
Waller, 29, is the founder and president of the foundation, while her mother, Charlena Waller, is the vice-president. Here is the mission statement for the home page of the Darren Waller Foundation:
“The Foundation’s goal is to empower young people to avoid and overcome drug and alcohol addiction and to support young people and their families during their recovery and treatment.
The primary focus of the Waller Foundation is the prevention of drug addiction among children in Las Vegas, by encouraging, affirming and rewarding students who accept the foundation’s commitment. Its secondary goal is to support Las Vegas youth and their families during their recovery and treatment experience.
“I feel like football is my current calling and I feel that with my life now I live with a different sense of urgency, but I feel like at the end of Account, my main focus is to help people with substance problems, ”Waller said in a statement. at Silver and Black Pride.
“I’m probably 70 after football so I want to make sure I’m helping someone else’s life and when I look back I can look back and say I tried to ‘help as many people as possible. “
When Waller – who has been clean and sober since August 2017 – moved to Las Vegas with the Raiders, he saw a problem among the area’s youth in terms of drug addiction. According to the site of his foundation, 16.8 percent of Las Vegas youth aged 12 to 18 have used an illicit drug in the past year. To put that in perspective, the national average is 14.7%. In addition, 25.6% of Las Vegas youth aged 12 to 18 participated in binge drinking at least once a month in the past year (which is again above average). national level of 23.2%). So the need for a foundation like Waller’s in Las Vegas was obvious.
“There is such a high addiction rate in Vegas that it really needs help,” Waller Foundation spokesperson Andrea Baker told Silver and Black Pride. “Darren is very focused on helping this town.”
Waller’s football career began to flourish since he became – and has remained – clean and understated. A sixth round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2015, Waller was suspended for the entire 2017 season without pay for violating league addiction policy. (This was after he had already been suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for the same reason).
“It’s not about being right all the time or being perfect. It’s just about getting better day by day and knowing that I don’t want to go back to where I was, ”Waller said. “I have always had this sense of urgency since I first got clean. I still want to do everything I can not to go back to where I was.
The Georgia Tech Product was first noticed by Raiders coaching staff during the 2018 season during field practice before a game in Baltimore while on the Ravens’ training squad. . The Raiders immediately poached him and he officially signed with them on November 26, 2018.
After a full offseason in Oakland, Waller took off and became an instant star. Waller totaled 197 receptions in 2019-20, which was the second-highest catch total in two seasons by a tight end behind just Kansas City superstar Travis Kelce during that span. Waller is clearly the Raiders’ best player. He went from being about to be dumped from the league because of drug addiction to a Pro Bowl player, who could now be a fringe Hall of Fame contender if he stays in the pro course.
So, with his thriving playing career, Waller leveraged his popularity and success to help him build his foundation, which is now his passion in life.
Waller felt the need to share his personal experience with drug addiction and that of others in an effort to provide a safe, tolerant, and supportive environment for students in Las Vegas. The ultimate goal of the foundation is the prevention of substance abuse and the prevention, according to its website. Baker said Walker was an important part of the program’s plan, which is based on his own treatment experience. He insisted on having a post-treatment program because it was vital for his own recovery, she explained. This is one of the main reasons this foundation is so unique, said Baker.
“Darren is extremely practical,” Baker told Silver and Black Pride. “When we were exploring the visualization process, Darren was instrumental in letting us know how important prevention and treatment was to him as he tried to get things done.”
Earlier this year, Waller hosted a concert called “A Concert to Shine On” in Las Vegas to benefit the foundation. The Raiders tight end – a musician himself whose grandfather was famed jazz musician Fats Waller – played the headliner.
Waller also writes and produces hip hop music (his company is called DWall Music) in his spare time and said it helped him stay focused in his recovery process. So marrying his off-screen passion with his foundation and helping the cause is satisfying for Waller.
Waller often talks to children about his foundation to help them and build their confidence. These discussions are called “Wall Talks,” and the goal is for Waller to share his own personal experience with drug addiction and focus on connecting those experiences with at-risk children who may be tempted to turn to illegal drugs and alcohol. The 6’6, 256-pound all-star tight end, in a sense, serves as the last line of defense for this young Las Vegas.
The ultimate goal of the foundation according to the site is for young people in Las Vegas to turn away from drugs and alcohol; accept others; demonstrate integrity; exercise self-control; develop social skills; live with resilience; and, finally, embrace hope.
One look at Waller’s life and you can’t help but believe in the power of hope.
You can donate, become a sponsor or volunteer for the Darren Waller Foundation here.