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Article and Photo courtesy of Daily Dispatch

Vance County native and NFL center Jason Brown spent Thursday sharing a little wisdom with students at Henderson Collegiate Charter School and the Vance County unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Central North Carolina.

According to Brown, the key to success in life is determination and education, never giving up no matter how hard things get.

“When I was young, I started recognizing some of the potential I had for greatness, which is something each of you (Boys & Girls Club members) have inside,” Brown said. “Potential energy is built up and stored inside, it just has to be recognized.”

Education is the cornerstone to a good life, he said, and it all starts with reading. Brown emphasized the importance of reading to the youth in attendance.

“The H. Leslie Perry Library is just downtown, and I still have my library card,” Brown said with a smile. “I loved to read so much when I was young, I used to reach the limit on books I could check out at a time. Learning is a lifelong process, and you will see as you grow older, you learn new things every day.”

Brown was born in Vance County and by his definition is a “Maria Parham baby.” He talked of the importance Vance County played in his life and how much he wants to see it stay clean. Brown will be volunteering at the Henderson-Vance Spring Litter Sweep Clean-Up Day Saturday.

“It’s very important to keep your city clean,” he said. “I love Henderson so much and I want to take the responsibility upon myself.”

After his opening words, Brown, starting center for the St. Louis Rams, opened up the floor to questions from the kids in attendance. The conversation quickly turned to football. The first question: How good is Brown’s football team?

“In the past couple of years we haven’t been that good, but we are working hard to turn it around,” he said. “We have a very talented young quarterback (Sam Bradford) that is going to help that happen.”

Due to the heated University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke rivalry, the room erupted with applause and playful boos when Brown recalled his time at UNC, leading him to quip “I’m a Tarheel, born and bred, and when I die, I’m a Tarheel dead.”

“I received a full scholarship to UNC for football, but was accepted to the school before that for my academics,” he said. “The sky is the limit. Get good grades and be involved in community service and you can go any college you want, just make sure you strive for quality.”

Brown graduated from Northern Vance High School in 2001, where he was a standout track and field athlete on top of football. After graduating from UNC, Brown was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2005 in the fourth round. Brown became the league’s highest-paid center when he signed his free agent deal with St. Louis on Feb. 28, 2009. He was also featured as 48th on Sports Illustrated’s Fortunate 50 list for 2009 – the list of the highest paid athletes in sports. He is the son of current Vance County Board of Commissioners member Deborah Brown.

“He is a young man who would rather these kids remember the words he said here than any accomplishment he has made on the field,” said Jerome Levisy, director of Vance County unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs. “He is one of the greatest resources these kids have to motivate them to succeed.”

Contact the writer at jhuff@hendersondispatch.com

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