Nnamdi Asomugha spends retirement giving teens a college boost

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Nnamdi Asomugha and students hang out in Battery Park. The tour was part of the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars. (Photo/Doug Interrante, Asomugha Foundation)

Nnamdi Asomugha and students hang out in Battery Park. The tour was part of the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars. (Photo/Doug Interrante, Asomugha Foundation)

It’s still the off-season for retired NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

The 32-year-old former All-Pro announced his retirement in December after 11 seasons in the NFL, but he doesn’t miss the game yet.

He’s been focusing his energies on his foundation and providing new experiences and college visits for at-risk high-school students from low-income communities.

“I’m still doing the same things I would have been doing,” Asomugha said of his time away from football. “This college tour still would have happened [...] So I’m not in that stage yet, no. But if you talk to me in the fall, I might have a different answer for you.”

Asomugha started the tours, which he’s dubbed ACTS, (Asomugha College Tour for Scholars) in 2007. Even before he joined the Oakland Raiders in 2003 as a defensive back, the California native volunteered his team with the East Oakland Youth Development Center.

Asomugha said he would usually spend Tuesdays talking to and mentoring the center’s young black teens – especially young black men.

As a way to “give back,” Asomugha started a fishing trip to expose the young men to new experiences and open up a dialogue about their futures.

“[The teens'] mindset was ‘nobody ever gets out of Oakland,'” Asomugha said. “They wanted to go to college, but they [didn't] think they ever [would] because no one in their family had [...]. It was just all this talk that doesn’t help your or serve you well or your future.”

So Asomugha said he decided to take the fishing trip to what he calls the “next level,” eventually taking a group of students to Atlanta to visit schools – the first time many of them had stepped foot outside of Oakland.

Many of the students, who all boasted GPAs of 3.5 or better, called the college tours “life-changing.” More than 130 students in the history of the ACTS program have “pursued higher education” – a credit to Asomugha’s vision and passion for giving back.

The ACTS program recently visited New York City, touring colleges like Columbia, meeting with former President Bill Clinton and TV host and civil rights activist Al Sharpton. The teens also took in an NBA game and visited Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater.

Ask Asomugha – who wed actress and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington last June – what he’s up to these days and it’s pretty clear his foundation isn’t just a “once in a while” endeavor.

“I’m very heavy into the foundation work, whatever other things I can do to stimulate my mind,” Asomugha said. “There’s always ways the program can get better,” Asomugha continued. “There’s always ways we can reach more people. I don’t want to be content with the numbers of people that we’ve reached.”

Asomugha’s decision to retire remains a firm one. He said he doesn’t see himself suiting up for an NFL team in the near future.

“No, no, no, I’ve stepped away from the game [...],” Asomugha said. “I’ve made the commitment to move on to all the other things that I have in store – so no, I wouldn’t.”

Follow theGrio.com’s Todd Johnson on Twitter @rantoddj