No matter what he does, Edgerrin James knows how to lead. During his time in the NFL, James averaged 4.2 yards per carry and is one of the all-time leaders in career rushing yards. Although retired, these days, the future Hall-of-Famer also rushes toward opportunities to give back. A beloved member of the University of Miami community, James contributed the largest-ever donation of any former athlete that has ever attended. He is also the founder of the Edgerrin James Foundation and the Edgerrin James Youth Football Skills Camp.
Black Fitness Today caught up with James to learn about his recent decision to embark on a 500-mile journey this past year, and what set him apart in his training as a professional athlete.
Why did you decide to embark on your 500-mile journey across the country? What has the journey taught you?
I always like to challenge myself. Running is something I’ve always hated doing, so that made it pretty interesting! This experience has really pushed me because there’s no reward at the end of the [500-mile journey] except the fact that I did it and I was consistent. There were many times I didn’t feel like running, but once I agreed to do it, I knew I had to accomplish it.
Tell us more about your partnership with Adidas.
The Adidas partnership was good for many reasons. They provided some nice uniforms for my youth football team from top to bottom. That’s more important than anything — to lace a team of inner-city kids with custom uniforms meant a lot to me and the kids. Another reason is the relationship with the University of Miami; that’s my school and I rep the gear faithfully. So it’s only right I locked in with Adidas. I’m glad the deal worked out and look forward to building on that relationship.
You mentioned that you’ve always hated running. Did that have any impact on you while playing football in terms of how you approached your training?
Basketball was my go to sport. It is fun and exciting and also gets you in shape. I used playing ball as my running to get in shape.
What was your favorite off-season training routine?
I’ve always liked the late-night sessions in the off-season. I would train before going to the club or after leaving the club — sounds unusual but it was the best for me. I didn’t drink and was well-rested before I would go out. My training was always very quiet with no distractions. During the day I would go to the University of Miami and get it in with the younger guys in the hot sun.
In addition to your 500-mile journey, how else do you stay in shape these days?
I always work out three to four times a week. Nothing hard, but I consistently get some type of work in.
What role does nutrition play in your everyday life? What are some of your favorite healthy foods and foods you can’t live without?
I don’t worry too much about what I eat. I just make sure I maintain a certain weight and follow up any heavy eating with a nice workout to make sure I’m back on track.
Many people know you for your accomplishments on the football field, but many don’t know that you are also passionate about giving back. What are some of your initiatives? Why is philanthropy so important to you?
My purpose is to empower my people and all people that share stories similar to mine. Too many times, you see other cultures having success and wonder why not us. It’s up to us to look out for us and when you see examples, it makes it really real to the younger generation. It also gives them realistic goals to chase without making the excuses. I’m just trying to be an example that’s tried and true without any excuses. Just hard work and determination…
What advice do you have to young men who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Learn as much as you can and just become a good example for the next generation, understand how this world works, and play the game of life to win!
What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I did things the right way and never tried to be anyone else except myself, that I showed people you don’t have to conform or be something you’re not to be successful, and just put in the right work and let everything else work itself out.