PPI Insiders’ Ricardo and Tammara McDonald (Team McDonald) caught up with Buffalo Bills’ backup quarterback Vince Young at Young’s Birthday Celebration for a Cause event.
Team McDonald (TM): I honor and applaud you for making a huge difference in so many children’s lives with your foundation and community accolades. What are the reasons behind starting your foundation?
Vince Young (VY): My mother and I started the Vince Young Foundation in 2006 when I first entered the draft. I knew from day one that it was something that I wanted to do because it is so much a part of who I am. I grew up without a lot and I want to give kids an opportunity to be exposed to as much as possible and have as many opportunities available to them. Aside from football, my #1 passion is kids and nothing makes me feel better than impacting their lives.
TM: What is the importance of giving back and being part of the communities in which you’ve lived?
VY: I believe to whom much is given, much is required. So not only do I enjoy seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces, I think it is required of those who have been blessed and have succeeded. If you are able to use your influence to help others, how can you pass on that? There are so many needs in our communities, especially the one I grew up in, so I feel a sense of responsibility to reach back and help those who are where I was. I would not be here today if it weren’t for people who did that for me.
TM: In knowing that you were inspired to start your foundation because of your own experiences overcoming life’s challenges as a child, can you please tell PPI readers more about those experiences and challenges?
VY: I grew up with a lot of love, but we had very humble beginnings. We did not have much, my mother and grandmother worked a lot to put clothes on our back and food on our table. I was not exposed to advanced education and career choices; I was exposed to drugs and gangs. That is why I find it very important to use the foundation as a way to reach children who face the same challenges I did and expose them to a different life.
TM: What inspired your emphasis on Character, Career, and Community?
VY: Those focuses have been a part of who I have become through my life’s journey. I was taught character by my mother and grandmothers when I was raised. While in college I developed more of a sense of community, which is when I began reaching back to the community where I grew up to talk to the young boys about staying on the right path. And now the most important focuses for me is career and family.
TM: I had an opportunity to attend one of your fabulous foundation events combined with your birthday party recently. Can you please elaborate on your cause and what keeps you going to do more in the community?
VY: The foundation is focused on providing opportunities, not only for underprivileged, but for all kinds of kids. We do focus a lot on developing our future leaders, we have a leadership camp for high school seniors and we give scholarships to deserving future college students. The stories that I hear about the impact the foundation has had on different people are what keeps me going. It keeps me not only wanting to continue to do it, but wanting to do more and to continue to reach greater heights.
TM: What do you plan to bring to Buffalo Bills this year?
VY: I will bring a new dynamic to the team, another weapon. I have been doing a lot of studying and practicing to be ready for the first preseason game.
TM: Are there any current Buffalo Bills players that you look forward to playing with?
VY: I am fortunate to come into a really good team so I am just looking forward to being a part of that.
TM: How will playing on the Bills be different from playing on the Eagles and Titans?
VY: Different terminology, different players, but the same game.
TM: What has been your first impression of Buffalo as a city?
VY: There is so much love out there. The people are very friendly; it is a nice family oriented city which will be great for us. There is a lot of good food.
TM: Did you try the local Buffalo wings on your last visit to Buffalo?
VY: Yes, you know I had to try them on my first trip!
TM: What food do you find yourself eating the most since being in Buffalo?
VY: Well we are on a strict diet with the team, but I found an Italian spot that I like, they have a spaghetti plate with a bunch of cheese baked on top and it is sooooo good!
TM: What is your current favorite song on repeat in your iPod?
VY: Right now I don’t have a favorite; I just set it to shuffle and let it play.
TM: Players love their gear. Which clothing brand have you been wearing a lot of lately?
VY: Reebok of course, but when I am dressy casual, I will throw on a Gucci t-shirt. Ralph Lauren is also another favorite of mine.
TM: Has there been a current or former player you have looked up to or has been a mentor to you during your career?
VY: Before I knew that the NFL was feasible for me, I was embraced by a former NFL player by the name of Steve McNair. He was my mentor, he looked after me and gave me advice from day one.
TM: In your opinion, how has the game changed over the years?
VY: The game is always evolving. Now we are seeing a lot of precautions being taken to protect us.
By Team McDonald
Follow Tammara McDonald on Twitter at @TamLoveMe.
Learn more about Team McDonald by reading their story here.
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