Sports

NFL Linebacker-Turned-Performance Strategist Talks to ESPN About Transforming Failure Into a Bigger Future

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Looking at the Matt Mayberry of today -- an acclaimed speaker, performance strategist and contributor for Entrepreneur.com -- you'd never think that this former college football star and NFL linebacker was once struggling through debilitating drug addiction and a career-ending injury.

But that's exactly what happened. Here, in this recent video interview with Zubin Mehenti on ESPN SportsCenter, Mayberry describes how he decided to transform his failures and create a bigger future for himself.

He was a linebacker for Indiana University from 2006 to 2009, then got to play the same position for the Chicago Bears in 2010 until a broken ankle in the preseason ended his professional football career. Mayberry writes about how anyone can power through and learn to create opportunity from what might feel like the end of the world in his first book, Winning Plays: A Top Athlete's Advice for Tackling Adversity and Achieving Success, available this September.

Related: Life's Greatest Lessons Are Disguised in Our Most Trying Times, But You Must Keep Perspective

Takeaways from this interview include: 

1. A game or a career is what you do, not who you are. 

"They let that sport that they played since they were 6 years old really be their identity," he says of former players. "But the more that you can understand that it's a sport that can really help mold you into becoming the best version of yourself and really give you the tools that you need to be successful once you leave the game, I think the better off you'll be."

2. Association is everything. 

His high school guidance counselor told him that by his 18th birthday, he'd either be in prison or dead. Why? "You show me your five closest friends, and I'll show you where your future is headed," he says. "When I was 16 years old, I was hanging around with drug addicts, people who committing crimes -- every wrong thing that you could possible think, that's what I was doing."

3. Be sure to cherish every moment.

Because one never knows when it will all come to an end. "It sounds so cliche, but I think we as athletes -- professional athletes, especially -- we wake up every morning, we try to win championships, we just let the hustle and bustle of life get to us, but I just wish I would have cherished every moment."

Edition: December 2016

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