In 2008, when he was a student at The University of Florida, NFL star Cam Newton was arrested for stealing a fellow student’s laptop. He was eventually charged with felony counts of burglary, larceny, and obstruction of justice -because he threw the laptop out a window.
Tuesday (Nov. 21) marked the nine year anniversary of Newton’s arrest, and he posted a message about it and offered encouragement for those who’ve also made huge mistakes.
“I contemplated posting this and even reluctant about it, but as I think about my life and many things I’m thankful for, I want to be an open book, so people can hear my testimony and learn from the flaws and mistakes I made on this day 11/21/2008, “he wrote. “On this date I thought my life and career was over, and the fact that I had shamed my family with media coverage surrounding this situation, I vowed to myself on this day that I will be better from this situation.”
In addition, Newton said no one gave him a chance to succeed after his arrest, and they doubted he could turn things around. But he refused to listen to any of that, which led him to his current position as the on-the-field leader of the Carolina Panthers and one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.
Newton also encouraged others, who face difficult times, to keep dreaming and reaching for their goals.
“If I can do it with my circumstances surely you can do it and be whatever you want to be with hard work and persistence,” he wrote.
It’s possible that his post could be a direct message to young Black men, considering how unforgiving the criminal justice system is when they make a mistake that leads to an arrest.
According to a 2014 study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency, nearly 50 percent of Black men are arrested by the time they turn age 23.
On top of that, the Justice Department released data — published by Mother Jones — that shows Black juveniles are five times more prone than white juveniles to be sent to jail or prison.
But Newton’s post could’ve also been about the recent high profile case of Meek Mill, who was sentenced to 2-4 years in prison for violating probation. Or possibly to LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, the UCLA players who were arrested for shoplifting in China. But either way, he didn’t specify.
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Elsewhere in his post, the Heisman Trophy winner said that he’s not ashamed of his 2008 arrest, and he celebrates turning his life around by the way he lives and plays football.
“People wonder why I play the game the way I do, act the way I act, dress the way I dress and even live the way I live,” wrote Newton. “Because in some people’s eyes, I’m not supposed to be here but in my eyes, I’m not going to have any regrets with the second chance God has given me.”
The 28-year-old then paraphrased one of JAY-Z’s lines from the 2011 song “N—– in Paris” to explain his celebratory way of life on and off the field.
“I’m shocked too. I’m supposed to be locked up too. If you escaped what I’ve escaped, you’d be in Paris getting messed up too,” he wrote.
After he posted his message, Newton’s followers praised him for his openness and called him brave.
“Thank you for sharing, Cam,” one person wrote. “He made a mistake like we all have before,” wrote another.
One man named David Phillips pointed to Newton’s level of resilience and his willingness to help others navigate the difficult days of youth.
“Man, the ripple effects from a post like this,” he wrote. “At some point, life will throw everyone a curveball. It’s how you respond that makes the difference … Someone’s life will probably never be the same after reading it.”