|Transcript of Robinson’s speech at Big Ten Media Day|
Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson addressed the crowd at Big Ten Media Day as the conference’s student athlete key note speaker. Discussing his upbringing and the choices he made to play for the Wolverines, see what he had to say, with a complete transcript of that speech.
“My name is Denard Robinson. I play quarterback for the University of Michigan and some people call me Shoelace. These are things that you might already know.
“What you might not know is that I grew up in Deerfield Beach, Fla. with six brothers and one sister. What you may not know is that I lost my brother when I was 10 years old and that I pray to him before every game to give me strength. No matter how hot it is outside, I always seem to get a cool breeze and I like to think that it comes from him.
“What you may not know is that I was so self-conscious of the area that I grew up in that I used to hold recruiting visits at my grandparents’ house.
“What you may not know is that I wasn’t even the best athlete in my neighborhood, but I happened to be one of the ones that made it out. Why? Choices.
“The reason I tell you this is because where I came from, it was hard – it wasn’t easy where I came from. What made it possible was my two parents, who had nothing and gave me everything. To them I want to say ‘thank you – I love you.’ What made it possible was the coaches, teachers and everyone else who gave of themselves, so that I, like many, could have choices.
“My favorite artist [Lil Wayne?] said ‘I don’t set out to be different, I set out to be me and people think it’s different.’ Where I came from, it was easy to do the wrong thing: quit school, do drugs, live a street life. It’s tough to do the right things.
“You may not know, my freshman year of high school, I was ineligible to play spring football because of my grades. It would have been easy for me to give up and to fall into what all the other students were doing. But it was my choice to be different – to be accountable.
“Like after my sophomore year, when Coach [Rich] Rod was let go – he was the coach that brought me in to the University of Michigan and it was the best decision of my life. Everyone thought I would probably leave – go someplace closer to home. Go to a school with a familiar offense. But those who questioned me didn’t know me.
“First, because I bleed blue. Second, because it’s an honor to play for the University of Michigan, the most winningest program in college football. Third, because those teammates were my brothers and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. A family sticks together through thick and thin.
“And when Coach [Brady] Hoke came in, he didn’t guarantee me anything. All I wanted was the opportunity to continue to play quarterback. And for that, I want to say ‘thank you coach.’ Another reason I didn’t leave was because it’s an honor to play for the Big Ten. When you guys are playing in bowl games, I root for you. Montee Ball is one of the guys I root for all the time. I call him the wrecking ball. When he was playing in the Rose Bowl, I was calling him the wrecking ball the whole time. I enjoy watching him play.
“I think it’s important, because we don’t only represent ourselves, we represent our schools, and each other as Big Ten players. We represent the Big Ten on the field and off the field. As a Big Ten student athlete, we have a platform and we have choices to make. We have a chance to use our platform to make a difference. Six million people attended our Big Ten games last year and the Big Ten Network is in 80 million homes. And that’s just a small number of eyes that are on us every day.
“’Character is who you are when no one else is watching.’ It’s easy when we know the camera is on us to do the right thing, but it might be tougher at other times. This year, for good or bad, I’ve become aware of how big our platform can be.
“I met the President of the United States. I met LeBron James. And they both knew who I was.
“I had the honor of meeting several Navy Seals this summer. They talked about how it was an honor to watch us play.
“On the other hand, I’ve been followed around by the media. Even when I’m just a regular student at basketball games, my every move is watched. Even when my Twitter account was front page news after being hacked.
“Yet I try to see a positive in it. We all should. My motto is, ‘it’s my goal to make someone’s day every day.’ With this platform, we have an opportunity. An opportunity to make a difference.
“The tough choices don’t stop. Trust me, I’m not perfect. Just ask Coach Hoke, who I drive crazy way too often. Right coach?
“At Michigan, we talk about trust, respect, accountability and commitment. We’re not only accountable to our teammates, but to our families, our coaches, our schools and we’re accountable to each other as Big Ten players to make the right choices and represent this great conference. We’re accountable to each other and we’re accountable to everyone watching us, particularly the kids. No matter what Charles Barkley said, we’re all role models.
“I was told I couldn’t play college football. I was told I couldn’t play college quarterback. I was told I was too short. I was told I couldn’t make it at a school like Michigan. I’ve been told many things, but my choice not to take the easy way out has led me to play for the University of Michigan, and set college football records. Yet of all the things I accomplished on the football field, nothing will compare to when I walk across the stage and graduate from the best university in the world, and be the first in my family to graduate from a four year college.
“I mentioned earlier that I lost my brother. I made a promise to him that one day I would provide for our family so they won’t have to struggle anymore. I have a feeling that I’m on my way. I’m not there yet.
“Like I said, I used to be so self-conscious of where I came from, but today I realize, I’m blessed. And I embrace it. Where I came from helped me become who I am today. And it shows, it doesn’t matter where you come from. Anything is possible. That’s the message I want to carry on. It’s about choices. It’s okay to work hard. It’s okay to be accountable. It’s up to us to use our stories , our platform, to help others.
“During my three years, it has been an honor to represent the University of Michigan. It’s been an honor to represent the Big Ten. It’s been an honor to share the field with you guys on the stage today. It’s the big life, big stage, Big Ten. This has all been a dream for me. And although it’s almost over, I still have plenty of days to make someone else’s day. I challenge you to do the same. I wish you all the best this season. And I want to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. Thank you and Go Blue.”