Metro Vancouver, B.C. - J.R. LaRose has had more than his share of hard knocks – including those he’s literally received on the football field.
Of Cree heritage, LaRose shared his story of tragedy-to-triumph with aboriginal high schools students during Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s annual Aboriginal Open House at KPU Tech Friday.
Now a free agent, the former BC Lions safety was raised by a mother who struggled with drug addiction and often left him with friends for days at a time. She grew up in the residential school system, where LaRose said she was strapped for using her left hand, and mocked for a bladder condition.
“She had so much rage built up inside her, she didn’t know how to handle it.”
LaRose’s own life was marked by poverty, aggression and sexual abuse. He, too, felt rage and anger at his situation. He eventually found solace playing football because it “was the only sport where you could hit people and not get in trouble.”
But even after he was picked up by the Edmonton Eskimos in 2006, LaRose continued to face challenges. He broke his leg in 2008 and missed the 2009 season to rehab. He approached the Eskimos in 2010 to ask for his old job back, and when they said no, he ventured out to B.C. and impressed the Lions enough to make the team.
He broke the same leg again in 2010, and then broke his arm in the last game of the 2011 preseason. Still, LaRose came back stronger and helped the BC Lions to the 99th Grey Cup in 2011.
“It’s so easy to make excuses but if you really want something, you have to go out and get it,” LaRose told students. “There are no handouts.
“There’s no reason you can’t attain your dreams. Every single one of you guys can be great – it’s your choice.”
LaRose urged students to surround themselves with positive people, stay focused and work hard.
KPU’s annual Aboriginal Open House is offered to students in grades 7 through 12 and is held at a different campus of the university each year.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at www.kpu.ca.
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