A conversation with Brian Dawkins about his new book, his time in Denver and more
BS: Half of the net proceeds from your book will go to your charity, the Brian Dawkins Impact Foundation. What do you hope you can do through this lens?
BD: âThe Brian Dawkins Impact Foundation is a foundation of which we have these pillars called Brian Dawkins Value Packages. And within those value packages are values ââfrom me. These are the things that I have learned in my life, grown in my life. and the things I do things differently because I learned these things. I believe that I’m supposed to give these things. The first pillar so to speak is in the area of ââmental health. I call it “well-” be cerebral. âI’m not talking about mental health, I call itâ brain wellness. âIt’s too much of a negative connotation to date around the wordâ mental. âJust by saying the wordâ mental â , I know coming from where I’m from in Jacksonville, Florida, just the word “mental” was negative – and it isn’t. The definition is nothing negative, but saying it in my neighborhood was negative thing. So I changed that for brain wellness. The second thing is financial literacy. There are just certain things. s that we didn’t learn from where I come from in Jacksonville that I now know as a professional that I could have done things differently and approached life differently from an earnings perspectiveâ¦ [or] thought process that was not taught growing up where I grew up in the school system. And then finally the assistance programs for single-parent families. I was fortunate to have my mom and dad in my life. â¦ But there are individuals growing up – many of them grew up in my neighborhood – who did not have a father. â¦ Two of them lost their lives in the street. So in these relationships that I had with them, I noticed that they were free and felt free to do whatever they wanted to do willy-nilly in some cases, and I’m like, “Dude , it’s nowhere in the world I can do that and come home, âbecause I had this authority figure in my life, this loving authority figure. So what I want to do now, it’s blessing through the foundation, blessing these single parents who are doing their best with what they have, but they need help. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do other things. , but these are sort of the three things we’re going to help right away. Now we’ve started in the mental health and brain wellness packages that we have. [in] nine schools in Jacksonville and seven in Philadelphia right now, [and we’re] seeks to extend this. So the places that blessed me, I’ll bless them. So Denver, I’ll bless Denver at some point here soon, God willing, and then South Carolina. I went to school in Clemson. So those areas will first receive, I guess, the blessings of the Brian Dawkins Impact Foundation. And from there, as far as we go in, as far as we can reach out to bless the people. “
BS: One of the things that really struck me about the book is the response you received from people who were considering self-harm and who were inspired to get help after hearing your talk at the Temple of Fame. How do you react when you hear these things?
BD: âI’m humbled by this. One of the first things I say if it’s a face to face thing, or if it’s online, I say to them in so many words, ‘I’m glad you’re always with us, brother. I’m glad you’re still with us, because there’s so much more for you to do on the other side of the pain you’re going through. â¦ I did not expect it at the level that I got it. When I tell you to get DMs, I am talking about Greece, Turkey. â¦ I literally have to push âTranslateâ because I don’t know what they are really saying. Seriously. So this message has gone far beyond the borders of the United States and around the world. And so that was an even stronger indication of the need for individuals to understand that it is okay to disagree. He is. It’s good not to be well. But it’s not good not to stay well, because there is help for you. There was help for me the whole time I was going through what I was going through. the event happened and I finally, thanks to the prompting and pushing of my beautiful wife and Emmitt Thomas, I went for help. â¦ When I have received help, I begin to see. on a spiritual level of some of the things that I need to stop doing and some of the things that I need to start doing. And I picked up and created discipline in my life, and I want to give you this: I pray, I read, I meditate, and I journal every morning now. And it started after the process. It started after I grew up during that time, had these conversations, and then understood, âWhat can I do to keep winning? I say it like this: ‘to stay a winner.’ This is the formula. This is another thing [too]. If you go to briandawkins.com, there’s something called the Blueprint Challenge, and that’s literally what I created for myself to keep winning in life. Now I do variations of this, but the morning routine is the same no matter if I have to get up early or if I can sleep late; I still get up at least an hour before I have to leave the house to be able to do these practices. That’s the power in there. It’s one of the things that I constantly say that we as men, in particular – we as men, our silence is literally killing us. It is literally killing us. So speaking out and addressing the right people – and not everyone needs to know what’s going on with you, that’s the other thing. You see, we think when you say something to someone, then everyone knows what’s going on with you. No no. Maybe there’s one person in your life, maybe there are two people in your life, maybe he’s a professional. You don’t trust people, okay let’s go to a professional. But this professional is required by law to keep what you tell them, right? So you can go talk to them and get help, resources. So that you can be the best version of yourself, so that you can start to get rid of toxins from the past in your life, so that your present can be such a nice place and you can start to envision a worthy future to go to. after. â¦ This is the space in which I am now, as a mentality coach, this type of motivating and inspiring cat. This is the space I find myself in. It all started when I was playing. While I was going to Denver, towards the end of my career, I was doing a whole bunch of things like that – motivating and helping guys get through some of the rough times we were going through. Now, I got to do this thing on a different level where I am now, and obviously the Hall of Fame, speaking on that stage, was really an introduction to the next chapter of my life in the world. “
BS: As a professional athlete, over the past two or three decades you have had to trust journalists or writers to tell your stories for you. You must have trusted them and believed that they will do them justice. But being able to tell your stories yourself now with this book, how valuable has that experience been to you?
BD: âIt was extremely valuable, and it’s something I didn’t think I would do. I didn’t grow up thinking that I was going to write a book. Name. From now on, I’ll have ‘author’ next to it. of âBrian Dawkins.â I never thought that. But the things that I have gained in my life, the way I have the chance to see life, to see my past experiences as you would be told in a psychiatrist’s office, how do I reframe things now to empower myself to be where I am today, I believe that I am not supposed to hold on to wisdom. When I acquire wisdom, I I’m not supposed to hang on to it. If I’ve learned to grow through these things and see things through a different perspective, I’m supposed to share that with people, bless them wherever they are. It’s that book. So it’s not necessarily a football book – there’s football in it – but it’s so many things that are blessed by the Best because ‘in the end, the things I experienced in my life were the best for me. In those moments of darkness, I had the best time to talk about life in my situation. It’s my prayer that people, when they read it, and you get off my trip, so to speak, that you enjoy it. And the other thing is I wanted him to read li ke I’m talking to you. Like, I often say “cat” and “Jack”. I wanted this in the book. I wanted you to hear me, how I speak, and I wanted it to sound like we were having a conversation. But when you look back on your life, you start to realize or hopefully realize, âWow, I’m stronger in this area because of this thing that hurt me so much at that point. I do things differently because this person told me in this case to do something differently. And, again, at the moment, it’s painful, but I’ve come to understand that it’s often one of the greatest strengths we gain in life usually comes from discomfort. It doesn’t come from being comfortable. “