The NFL has a lot of stories of athletes rising to the heights of professional football despite lives full of trials and tribulations. Newly signed Jets running back Akeem Judd’s story is of them.
Akeem Judd grew up with only a tenuous relationship with his father. And his mother. He grew up surrounded by violence, drugs and poverty. He never thought he would make it out. Few ever do.
When Judd was eleven years old one of his friends’ older brother was shot to death. After the funeral, gunfire erupted at the victim’s house, while Judd was playing on the front porch. Judd narrowly averted disaster. Violence was just an everyday fact of life in Judd’s Durham North Carolina neighborhood.
Akeem Judd has barely spoken to his father since he was sixteen years old. His mother raised Judd, but problems with depression and drug abuse made Judd grow up early; he had to fend for himself much of the time as his mother disappeared into her drug addled world. There wasn’t enough money for basic necessities like utilities, so Judd dropped out of school and began earning money as a local drug dealer. He eventually returned to school and football, where he relied on the kindness of coaches to provide some of his basic necessities like food, shelter and utilities. In time one of Judd’s coaches and his wife took him in and became Judd’s godparents, helping to provide some of the stability and guidance Judd’s biological parents were unable to.
Judd began to turn his life around, but couldn’t make the grades required for an FBS scholarship, so he attended Georgia Military College, where he became the nation’s number one ranked JUCO running back, and eventually earned a scholarship to the University of Mississippi. Judd only started one year at Ole’ Miss, but it was enough to attract attention from pro scouts, and now he has earned a spot on an NFL roster. I don’t know what the NFL has in store for Akeem Judd, but I suspect anyone who can overcome the obstacles Judd has overcome just to get here will get as much out of his physical talent as humanly possible.
There is a terrific article here providing a much more in depth look at the difficult road Akeem Judd has traveled just to make it to an NFL roster. I highly recommend taking the time to read it. In a sports world that can at times deflate you with some of its overpaid, entitled, spoiled performers, a tale like Judd’s should be told and told again. This is what a winner looks like, regardless of his eventual success or lack thereof at the NFL level. Welcome to the Jets Akeem Judd. We’re pleased you made it here.