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Castille talks about chasing his dream

Former University of Alabama and NFL standout Jeremiah Castille came to Linden High School on Wednesday, but he didn’t come to encourage the Patriot football team or to sign autographs. He came to deliver a shot of faith through a single word: D.R.E.A.M.

He used a mnemonic device so they can remember how to follow their dreams: “Desire, Reality, Excellence, Attitude, Motivation.”

“You were designed and created for accomplishments,” he told them.

Castille – who pulled down an interception in Super Bowl XXII for the Denver Broncos from Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, was named the team Most Valuable Player in Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s final game and was a college All-American – told Linden students that he once sat where they were.

The son of alcoholic and drug-addicted parents, Castille told the students that the odds of his life being similar were very good. His older siblings had already begun going down the path of drugs and alcohol, his sisters getting pregnant before they graduated high school and his brothers landing in jail. It seemed that Castille’s life story had been written before he had a chance.

However, Castille was determined to alter that story and make his own fate, rather than relive that of his parents and the expectation that life seemed to have for him. He trained hard to be an outstanding football player at his high school in Phenix City, knowing that a football scholarship would be his ticket to college, and that a college degree would be his ticket to a different future.

“I can stand before you today because I had a dream,” Castille told the Linden students. “I wanted to play for the University of Alabama. My friends told me I was too small, but I didn’t listen to them. I got there, and I played in my freshman year and started in my sophomore, junior and senior years.”

When he was drafted into the NFL, the first thing Castille did was buy his mother a house.

“If you call my mother today and say, ‘Ms. Castille, how old are you?’ she’ll say, ‘I’m 25,’” he said. “She says that because she’s been sober for 25 years.”

After his program, Castille talked about what he wanted the students to take with them.

“The most important thing is that they have a dream,” he said. “A dream for their life; they can see through the veils of the future doing what they’re passionate about – and succeeding. My circumstances motivated me to have a dream; I found a reason. They’ve got greatness in them.

“The thing that turned it around for me was, at 13, coming into a relationship with the Lord, coming to believe that Jesus was my personal savior, in a little Baptist church in Phenix City, down the street from my house. When that happened, it really gave me the power to overcome the adversarial circumstances that were in my life. It was refuge for me; it was a place of strength. I can remember starting to go to church and having a Sunday school teacher tell me to obey my parents, and I started doing that. It just made a difference in my life.”

Happily married for 27 years, the father of six children, achieving his dream to play for the University of Alabama and taking that dream a step further to play not just in the NFL but in the Super Bowl, Jeremiah Castille has had a successful life. That life began with the odds against him, like many students in our area, but by following his dream and believing in himself, he was able to make his dream come true.

His message to the students of today is that they can achieve their dreams through work, faith and determination.