Marcus Lattimore Retires From the NFL to Focus on Helping Others

Some may say that the story of football star Marcus Lattimore is a tragedy, but Lattimore doesn’t see it that way. A top recruit out of high school, he became a star running back right away at the University of South Carolina (USC). He overcame multiple knee injuries to get drafted by the San Francisco 49ers but never played a professional game. He announced his retirement in November 2014 after rehabilitation proved insufficient in getting his knee back in top playing shape.

Lattimore’s career was cut short too soon, but instead of focusing on what he’s lost, Lattimore is grateful and looking to help others. “I would not be where I am today without the support of my family,” said Lattimore when he announced his retirement. “I also appreciate the outpouring of support from friends, fans, opposing players and strangers; your support means more than you will ever know.” He also thanked the 49ers for fulfilling his dream of becoming a member of the NFL and USC, where he’ll be returning to finish his degree.

Providing Support

In 2013, Lattimore started The Marcus Lattimore Foundation/DREAMS and formed a mission that’s close to his heart: supporting student athletes. He pays special attention to those who have dealt with the difficulty of injury and the long road of rehabilitation. For students whose future is built around their athletic abilities, injury can destroy opportunities and self-worth along with bones and muscles.

Lattimore has already proven willing to help out young athletes that go through a tough injury. When high school volleyball star Johna Robbins partially tore her ACL, a setback that threatened to derail her senior season and her college scholarship, she wanted to give up. Robbins’ mother sought out Lattimore, whose family lives nearby in South Carolina. Lattimore’s family welcomed the Robbinses with open arms. Marcus became a confidant and source of inspiration for Johna, who had surgery, went through rehab and is back playing volley ball at her university.

Protecting Young Football Players

With major attention on the health risks of concussions in football, as summarized by the CDC, The Marcus Lattimore Foundation is also working to protect young players. Coaches who don’t realize that a player has sustained a head injury may keep them in the game without realizing the potential cost. The Foundation provided one team with helmet sensors that track the force of any impact to the helmet and head so coaches know if a player has been hurt.

The Foundation’s focus is on South Carolina, where Lattimore calls home. He’s a household name all over the state and is determined to be known for good, even if he wasn’t able to achieve his NFL dreams. The Foundation helps not only with physical needs but also prepares athletes for the academic rigors of college to help them work toward a satisfying career.

Lattimore holds records at USC for his achievements in the game, but his work with others is the kind of accomplishment that leaves a true legacy.

By: Jessica Woodbury

Image source: Flickr