COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – He was nicknamed Calvin “in a hurry” Murray.
The running back from southern New Jersey rushed for more than 2,500 yards in four seasons at Ohio State, playing in four Bowl games between 1977 and 1980.
He played several seasons in the NFL between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears until injury forced him to retire.
But Calvin had other goals to pursue.
“To work with young people and speak life into their life,” he tells me as we stand together in the gym at Maryhaven Behavioral Drug and Alcohol rehab center.
For five years, he has been working with Franklin County Children’s Services in a program designed to counsel and mentor adolescents who are struggling with home life or substance issues.
“C’mon Chris, lets see what you got!”
Today, as we throw up baskets with 17 year olds Damian and Chris, two Maryhaven inpatients, Calvin takes breaks to talk about choices with the young men.
“I had to say no to a lot of things, and when people try to derail you from your goals, then that’s the person you don’t need to associate with,” he tells the teens.
Calvin drives the lessons home with real life experience, sharing with Chris and Damian about the time he was in a car his rookie year in the NFL with teammates, headed to a charity basketball game.
“The guys decide to pull out a plate and snort cocaine while the driver was doing 90 miles an hour,” he shares. “I decided to never let myself get in that position again, so I started driving myself. It was more expensive but I wanted to be safe and not put myself in position to be arrested.”
The young men who Calvin has gotten to know and has urged to share with him their goals, seem to be listening.
“Growing up without a father I know I can look back to him and talk to him about things that are important,” Damian tells me. “I can relate to him and he’s shown me how to learn from mistakes. I can learn a thing or two from him.”
Maryhaven CEO Paul Coleman has noticed as well.
“We’re very happy to have a role model like Calvin Murray to work with young people and help them heal their lives,” Coleman tells me.
At 56, and far from the spotlight, Murray is in a little less of a hurry than he was 35 years ago. But he has no less drive to make a difference and help others score in the ever more challenging game of life.
“That’s my passion,” he said. “God has given me a gift. “I appreciate the gift to speak life into and be a positive influence to those I meet.”