We all know about Tim Tebow, Terrell Owens, Tiger Woods, and other well known sports figures. A lot of younger kids look up to them as role models, which is understandable.
Athletes are easy targets for being role models because they are usually more high profile than most. But there are those athletes who you may not have heard of that are true role models. Athletes like Pat Tillman, Carl Pendleton, and Myron Rolle.
These players have decided to move away from their passion for sport to continue their education, to put others' safety first, or to help a child when most wouldn't.
Pat Tillman played for the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals.
After September 11, 2001, Mr. Tillman decided to leave the big money and fast life of the NFL to join the military. While in the military (he was an Army Ranger) he was deployed to Iraq and later to Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan Mr. Tillman was killed on patrol by a friendly fire incident.
His death is not what made him a true role model. No, it was the fact that he was willing to give up wealth and fame to fight for his country, to fight for those of us that are not willing to do so.
Myron Rolle was a safety for the Florida State Seminoles.
Instead of declaring for the NFL Draft in 2009, Myron Rolle decided to take advantage of a very rare opportunity. He decided that football could be put on hold for at least one season, to become a Rhodes Scholar.
Mr. Rolle is the most prominent athlete to receive a Rhodes Scholar since Bill Bradley did so in 1965.
For continuing his education and putting instant wealth on hold for at least one season, Myron Rolle is a true role model for kids. For those kids that look up to him, they will remember what he did, and hopefully work harder on their education.
Carl Pendleton was a defensive lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners.
Mr. Pendleton bypassed his final year of eligibility in college football (2005) to adopt his stepbrother. He went on to graduate from Oklahoma while giving back to his community and his younger brother.
Mr. Pendleton travels every week around the state of Oklahoma to speak to schools, churches, and youth groups. He is also an active member in the Big Brothers/Sisters of Oklahoma organization.
Passing up football is not what makes Carl Pendleton a true role model; what he has done in life does.
What do all these athletes have in common?
They all decided to better themselves as people over the fame and wealth of professional athletics.
No matter if it is to serve your country in time of need, to get one of the best educations the world has to offer, or to become the legal guardian of a child so the child does not have to grow up in the system, true role models do the things beyond what is called for, on and off the field or court.
True role models could care less about the fame and wealth. They go beyond just to help others and set good examples for those who look up to them.