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New Program Works To Help Teen Athletes Make The Right Choices

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An Ohio State star running back visits Baltimore with a pressing message for teens. His football career was crushed after a series of wrong choices.

As Gigi Barnett reports the “First and Goal” program is the first in the nation–and Baltimore is the first city to get it.

It was a captive audience at Frederick Douglass High School in northwest Baltimore. The speaker knows the success and fame these young athletes crave, but he also understands the perils and pitfalls, too.

“Our only conception or our only belief of getting out of the inner city is through sports and that’s the biggest misconception of all of us,” said speaker Maurice Clarett.

Former Ohio State star running back Maurice Clarett was on the fast-track to a multi-million dollar NFL contract–until he ran headfirst into a series of poor decisions and the wrong friends.

After an armed robbery charge in 2005, Clarett ended up in prison. He says that’s where his education really began.

“When I was incarcerated and I would get the Economist Magazine and I would read The Wall Street Journal and USA Today and it began to make me believe that I had the skill set to do other things. I had interest in other things that I never gave myself a chance at,” he said.

It’s a message he wants these young athletes to hear, so he’s teaming up with the NFL and community groups to promote a new program called “First and Goal.” It puts tutors and mentors at inner city high schools.

Frederick Douglass High School is the first in the nation to get it.

“Students really are focused on their athletics. And they fail to remember that, without the academic foundation, this is all you have,” said Family League of Baltimore Spokeswoman Alexandra Warrick-Adams. “It’s just high school athletics.”

While the athletes at Douglass High School have received help from tutors and mentors, the next step now is to add community service and internships to the program.

Clarett is back in school at Ohio State University and expects to graduate in 2016.

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