Join Date: May 2004
Vonta Leach living his childhood dream
Leach living his childhood dream
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Vonta Leach was certainly a fan favorite when he played for the East Carolina Pirates. It had as much to do with his personality as it did with his play.
The 6-0, 250-pounder can usually be found wearing a big grin. And he’s certainly never at a loss for words.
A regular-quote machine, Leach has quickly become a favorite among the Houston Texans’ fans. The starting fullback will begin the second of a four-year contract with the team next year.
While Leach obviously has the size and skills to play in the NFL, he said he never would have made it had it not been for a strong work ethic in the classroom.
“It starts off in middle school and having your grades right,” said Leach, who recently returned to Greenville to visit with friends. “When you get into high school, everybody wants to play sports and you just have to get involved.
“To get looked at, you have to have the grades; that’s the number one thing. There are a lot of people that I played with and that I played against that were way better than me, but they didn’t have the grades so they couldn’t display their talents on the college level.”
Leach was successful in the classroom and on the field at South Robeson High School, which led to his chance to play at ECU.
Getting there is only half the battle. Leach said an athlete has to separate himself from the others.
“When you get to college, everybody was an all-star at his (high) school,” Leach said. “At each level you go up, you have to step your game up. If you don’t step your game up, you’ll get left by the wayside.
“A lot of players will reach their peak when they’re in high school. Some don’t take that next step once they get to college. You have to work out hard and you have to do whatever you have to do to make yourself have an edge over the next guy because everybody is a star.”
Leach, who said his main goals are to “be the best fullback in the NFL” and to “help the Texans get to the playoffs,” hasn’t forgotten from where he came. He donates his time and money in trying to help out those less fortunate than himself.
The generous NFL star gave four, $500 scholarships to high school seniors who will be entering college; sponsored 50 families at Christmas and gave them turkeys and the trimmings, and presented $100 gift cards to 30 kids at Christmas.
He’s also involved in the high school matching grant program where he gave $5,000 to his former school and the NFL matched the donation.
“I do have the Vonta Leach Foundation and I hold a football camp every summer,” Leach said. “I’m doing a whole lot of stuff and I’m hoping to do more. It makes you feel good when you do stuff like that.
“Coming from where I came from, we didn’t have a whole lot. To be able to give back to your community makes you feel good about yourself. I know I’m blessed and fortunate. If you’re fortunate, you need to help out the less fortunate.”
While he is ready to begin his fifth season in the NFL and he’s able to help out those in need, Leach said he’ll never take it for granted.
“You could be on top today; tomorrow, you could be on the bottom,” Leach said. “You are special and you’re in an elite group. I think the percentage is one out of every 1,000 people make the NFL or make it to professional sports, so we’re elite and that’s very spe