Former NFL player Dwayne Blakely spoke at the Boys and Girls Club of Atchison on Friday. Blakely shared many stories with the kids, including crediting his mom with keeping him out of trouble when he was younger.

Children at the Boys and Girls Club of Atchison got a special treat when Dwayne Blakely, a former player in the National Football League, stopped by the club on Friday.

Blakely, a friend of Boys and Girls Club Unit Director Sean Crittendon, played tight end at the University of Missouri before playing in the NFL for seven years. The St. Joseph, Missouri native spent five years with the Atlanta Falcons and also was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs organization.

Blakely, who has family ties in Atchison, owns and operates his own fitness company, Blaketivity, in St. Joseph.

Though he played in the NFL, Blakely’s first love is basketball and he plays semi-professional basketball for the Kansas City Soul. He began playing football in high school after some encouragement.

Speaking to the kids at the club, Blakely recalled something a coach told him in college: “No one ever said it was going to be easy.” Blakely said he thought about that quote whenever he faced adversity.

He faced plenty of adversity pursuing a career in the NFL, too. Blakely had to recover from a broken bone in his neck while in college, was an undrafted free agent in the NFL, was cut five times in his pro career, and fought through shoulder surgery and a concussion.

Blakely’s message was to take advantage of all the opportunities the kids had and to be appreciative of what was in their lives. He also said his mother was a big reason why he was able to stay out of trouble when he was younger.

Adam Gardner can be reached at adam.gardner@npgco.com.

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