Former NFL player shares foster care experience with Advisors Excel members

The former NFL player was also invited to speak to area high school students, scheduled at TPAC
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Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 4:11 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A former NFL player who was once a foster child is in Topeka to talk to and encourage adults and kids not to let their past trials and tribulations overcome, overwhelm, and change their perspective of the world.

Anthony Trucks first started in the National Football League in 2006. He played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Washington Commanders (formerly the Redskins), and the Pittsburgh Steelers until 2008 — when he injured his shoulder while playing for the Steelers. The injury was severe enough that his career in the NFL ended following that injury.

“I ventured out beyond that world, but it was a blast while I was in it, and I will say NFL stands for - Not for Long,” said Trucks. “You get in. You get hurt. You get out, unfortunately, but it taught me so many things. I mean, a lot of the human traits I have now, I am able to use are because of the difficult, crazy environment that it is that teaches you how to be a better human.”

After the NFL, Trucks looked for another way to provide for his family. It took some time, but he has become a transformational identity shift coach and motivational speaker, sharing his life experiences with kids and adults, and founded Dark Work — a training process to help anyone reach their full potential and lead them to the path of success.

“The way that I look at life is I call it Dark Work — the work in the dark to win the light. All of us have this thing that we desire that much as shining the light,” said Trucks. “It could be shining your family, it could be shining your work whatever it is, but in order for that to be what it is, you have to do things in the dark that are unseen, unsexy, [and] no one is cheering you on. It is the late nights by the computer. It is the early mornings in the gym. It is the long walks to prepare yourself for something that no one is really cheering on. But when you show up later on, you fight differently for that moment. You fight differently for that win because you know I have done too much work in the dark to lose in the light.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, Advisors Excel invited Trucks to talk to staff about reaching their full potential and share his story with the group.

During his presentations, Trucks talks about his time in foster care. Trucks’ biography states he spent most of his childhood “feeling adrift, unworthy, and listless. For years, [he] spent every day in survival mode, just trying to make it to the next day, week, and year in one piece.”

Trucks discovered that 75% of inmates in American prisons are former foster kids, and up to 50% of kids placed in foster care end up homeless, but that changed when he was adopted at 14. Trucks’ biography says that is when he started applying himself in school and overcoming challenges.

“It was tough, but I always loved this quote that I heard, which is ‘smooth seas never made skilled sailors,’ and while it applies to everybody, I found that for the foster kids, like one thing that I go and tell them — I go there is going to be a lot of people you meet later in life that did not have rough enough seas to build the skills to navigate a rough life later, so when everything goes haywire like they struggle a little bit, but if you look at what you went through and you actually emerge from that, and you endure it, you survive it, you have all these skills that are going to apply themselves in amazing ways later. So, it is actually kind of a benefit. While I do not like what happened as a kid, I appreciate all of it.”

Based on Trucks’ life experiences, 13 NEWS asked why he thinks many foster kids are at risk of becoming homeless or in prison.

“MY guess is when you are a kid, and you are going through this — it is the world, and the world causes you strife and trouble,” said Trucks. “So, I think it is a desire for retribution — like I had it. I wanted the world to pay for what the world did to me. In doing so, the crazy thing is that we are pretty mentally skilled. I had to learn at a young age how to be charismatic [and] communicative because I had to see if this person [was] going to hurt me or help me. So, you learn to be somewhat manipulative, and so what happens is we start using it in the wrong ways. So, I think, unfortunately, we do not have [a] support system. There is no base to keep us on track, and I think we have this internal emotional thing we are not taught how to manage, and so it comes out, unfortunately, in ways that end us in places that aren’t the best for us.”

Trucks was also invited to present to several Shawnee County high school students on Wednesday night at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. He acknowledged the differences when speaking to young kids compared to adults and offered insight on how he keeps them engaged.

“The way I look at it is a different stage of life. The things that adults are going through — they get it, but they are at a higher level, but youth athletes — they are focused on where they are at. If I go beyond that, I lose them. So, I go and teach and talk to the kids. I talk to them at the level of what I experienced and what they are experiencing currently to help them get to the next year. When I was a kid, even now as an adult, I don’t listen to someone if I don’t think they understand me. So I always share that I am very big on ‘here is my story, what I experienced,’ and so it opens the door for them to go, ‘Oh, this person might get a little bit of what I have experienced. So, I share the things that are usually tucked away that most people won’t vulnerably share, but I share them with the kids, so they go, ‘Oh, this guy is experienced,’ so then whatever I do share it has a pathway in.”

Trucks will also teach the students the unique takeaways he discovered as the father of three teenagers and “give them [the] seeds that they just need to be able to plant and let them blossom over a lifetime.”

After Trucks left the NFL, he also competed in American Ninja Warrior.