FAIRFIELD — The silver and black jersey, 6-foot-1-inch height and 240 pounds of muscle meant Oakland Raider Sio Moore had seventh- and eighth-graders at Green Valley Middle School hanging on what he had to say Friday.
But Moore’s message was focused on books and careers, rather than pro football.
“You can be part of a pack,” he said. “Or become somebody.”
Moore, who was named to the all-rookie team in the NFL for 2013, told teens he remembers being where they are – sitting at school and listening to someone speak.
“You want to do what everybody else is doing,” he said of school life, “instead of trying to create your own path.”
But, Moore said, “You can make yourself into whoever you want to be.”
“I’m passionate about everything I do,” he said.
“You can’t shake me,” he said. “Whatever I do I’m confident in it.”
Moore said he wants to be a good son to his mom, and – when that time comes – he wants to be a good husband and father.
A native of Monrovia, Liberia, on the west coast of Africa, he was born in 1990 when a civil war tore apart the country.
“What you have, you need to appreciate,” he told the Green Valley Middle School students.
He spoke about when youths their age and younger were armed with weapons and killing people in Liberia.
Take advantage of the opportunities and blessings here, Moore said.
Work so hard, Moore said, that you leave people with no choice but to acknowledge accomplishment. If your mom tells you to wash the dishes, he said, do that and more.
“Take it to the next level,” he said of life. “Find a way to work harder than the next person.”
“You’ll find a place in yourself you never understood,” Moore said.
Asked about the school he attended and its teachers, Moore said when he did his homework and got better grades, he started liking his teachers more.
Are you doing enough in school, he asked of the student who inquired about Moore’s school life. When the youth answered, the “bare minimum,” Moore said he wouldn’t be friends with someone doing the bare minimum.
“Make yourself proud of who you are,” the Oakland Raider said.
Asked what he’d do about a negative comment meant to bring him down, Moore answered: “The first thing you do is ignore it.”
“There’re going to be haters everywhere,” he said.
Fairfield City Councilwoman Pam Bertani, who with the Fairfield Neighborhood Organizing Workforce helped bring the Pushing Excellence Program to the Fairfield-Suisun School District, said, “the best way to not be talked about is to do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
“Nobody will care,” Bertani said Friday at Green Valley.
Seventh-grader Keonte Anderson, 13, said Moore’s talk was encouraging with his call to focus on the positive.
“Don’t let the negative overwhelm the positive,” Anderson said.
Eduardo Herrera, 13, said Moore inspired and motivated him.
“I’m just really proud that he came to talk to us,” Herrera said.
Lamonte Winston, director of player engagement for the Raiders and a speaker March 7 at Armijo High School as part of the Pushing Excellence Program, introduced Moore to the middle school students. Winston said after Moore’s talk that, “This is what the Raiders are all about.”
“These kids are the ones who benefit,” he said of Moore’s message.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]