Marshawn Lynch, running back for the Seattle Seahawks since 2011, has a history of unwillingness to speak during press conferences. Last month, during the Super Bowl XLIX Media Day, Lynch held a press conference, stating, “I’m only here so I won’t get fined.” His audacity made media headlines everywhere. Despite his apparent dislike for press conferences and interviews, Lynch is very passionate about one topic: Oakland, or “The Town,” as he calls it.
Lynch grew up in North Oakland with his mother and three siblings. He attended Oakland Technical High School, where he played four sports: wrestling, track, basketball, and football. He excelled in these sports, especially football, in which he won the San Francisco East Bay Player of the Year. He then attended UC Berkeley, where he majored in social welfare and played football for the California Golden Bears. Because he was so talented, he chose not to play his senior year in order to enter the NFL draft. In 2007, he was chosen by the Buffalo Bills, and played for them for four years, until he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. Lynch obtained his first (and the Seahawks’ first) Super Bowl victory in 2014 while playing for Seattle.
Lynch is well known in Oakland for being a football star, but in parts of the community, especially where he grew up, he is known as someone who constantly gives back. When asked about the city in an interview, he said, “Everything about Oakland is everything about me”—an accurate representation of what he has done for the community; he stages clothing and food drives for the lower income areas of the Bay, and visits many of the Oakland public middle and high schools, including Tech, his alma mater. His charity organization, Fam 1st Family Foundation, aims to “educate and empower” underprovided youth.
When Lynch was living in Oakland as a child, he was not so dissimilar to the kids he gives back to today. He was raised in a single parent household, with constant worry of how to put food on the table, and how to pay for rent each month. All the community work Lynch does now directly impacts kids who grew up just like he did, because that is his goal: to make Oakland a better place for those who live in it.