Former Georgia Tech offensive lineman Omoregie Uzzi tells us five key lessons that he learned from his dad:
1. Give no excuses
My father (who died in 2010) had a pretty tumultuous childhood. His mother passed away when he was 14 years old, and he subsequently helped raise his siblings. He would eventually come to the U.S. from Nigeria; earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in civil engineering from LSU and Tennessee State University, respectively. Looking back at his life, even from a point where he was not too much older than me, I understand that there were many times he could have folded and labeled himself as a victim of circumstance. But he chose not to — and that made all the difference.
2. Stand out
As a teenager, like many others, I wanted to fit in. There was a constant peer pressure to get all the latest clothes and gadgets and stay ahead of all the new styles and trends. However, my father always kept me grounded and assured that I should not spend too much thought on “what the other kids were doing.” Instead, he would always question my thoughts and ask me “Why?” It was a simple question that had the power to make me think twice about my actions. He would then explain, “Doing what your friends do, you’ll end up like them. Stand out.”
3. Show appreciation
My father taught me the value of making others feel important. People of any background or ethnicity always had his utmost respect, regardless of their age, race, gender, etc. He would graciously return thanks and gratitude for those who provided the same respects. My father taught me to put my best foot forward every time, to treat people kindly and to show my appreciation for the good in others. As a result, this has always helped to bring out the good in me.
4. Family first
I grew up living with my parents, three brothers, cousins, aunts, and the rest of the Cosby cast (you get the picture, I have a big family). All whose choice name for my father was “Daddy,” a title he earned because he cared for all of us the same, loved us all unconditionally and put us all first in his endeavors. The older I get, the more I admire how selfless he was in regards to being a father to us all and putting our family first.
5. Set goals and reach them
When I decided to play football in the seventh grade, my father was not a fan of the idea. He believed it would interfere with my academics. Being a chubby kid with asthma who never played before, I quickly realized how difficult practice could be. I remember my first opportunity to skip practice was on a particular Saturday morning and I planned on taking full advantage that opportunity. Halfway into a bowl of cereal and a cartoon, I vividly remember my father walking into my room and asking, “Don’t you have practice?” He said it in a way that motivated me and allowed me to acknowledge his encouragement. Shortly after, I was on the field — and years later I would go on to earn a football scholarship. My father has always encouraged me to work hard, leave no doubt and always strive for excellence.