I was lucky enough to see New Orleans Saints player Bruce Thompson in the Houston airport, talk to him and, ironically have the same flight back to New Orleans with him. Par for the course with flights, it was delayed. I sat next to him on the flight and we talked the whole trip. I got to talking to him about his story. It’s not one you may have known, but full of turns and challenges. Here’s how Bruce got where he is today.
Everyone has a different path to the NFL. For Bruce Thompson he had to work harder than most. Bruce Thompson is now a member of the Saints 90 man roster. Thompson is hopeful to make the Saints 53 man roster. The Saints have 12 wide receivers and Bruce Thompson is the only not under contract. Making the Saints roster isn’t the hardest thing he would have accomplished in his lifetime.
Bruce Thompson grew up in New Orleans, he played football and his mama always knew he was something special.
When Katrina came around the Bruce and his mama had to leave New Orleans. They were looking for a place to stay until his uncle told him he could stay with him in his three bedroom house in Texas. When they arrived there they weren’t the only ones. It was Bruce and his mama and 32 other people staying in a three bedroom house.
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Bruce was left homeless, every morning he woke up at 3 a.m just so he could go shower for school. Most of the time he didn’t even get to eat before school because there were so many people to feed. Bruce and his mama had to live there for a whole school year. One day Bruce found a 100 dollar bill lying on the ground, he asked around to see if anyone dropped it. No one claimed it so he thought he would take it and bring it to his mama to help her out. When Bruce gave it to his mama she admittedly gave it back and she told him to go buy a new pair of shoes for the school year with the money.
This was the sign of hope Bruce very much needed.
Every single day Bruce went to school then had to go to football practice. Bruce didn’t share his struggles with his teammates or coaches. After practice Bruce would walk to the local gas station and get a honey bun and sit down and do his homework, every single day. He would wait there to about 9 or 10 at night so his mama could come pick him up. Every single day, besides weekends. Finally, they could return back home to New Orleans.
When they got to go back home to their house in New Orleans, their dog wouldn’t stop barking. Bruce wasn’t feeling well and his mama was throwing up. They went to the hospital to see what was going on. It ended up Bruce’s family was exposed to monoxide, that could have easily killed them if they were in there long enough.
They weren’t allowed back in there house, for the second time Bruce and his mama were homeless. They found help in the form of another future NFL player and his family. Odell and the Beckham and the Manning family (you also may have heard of them) brought him in and helped him out so much in the coming days, months and years. They taught him a way of life. Odell helped Bruce chase his dream of becoming a NFL player.
Bruce Thompson played football at Langston University, with the help from Odell and the Manning brothers he got his shot with the Saints this summer. Bruce is 5’11, 195 lbs and a fantastic route runner with great hands. When I asked him who he compares himself to he answered Willie Snead. Bruce has a great shot to make the Saints roster but if he doesn’t, he told me he has at least 4 teams awaiting.
I’m only 16 and I have the same dream that he does, and he helped me a lot. It was something special to talk to him. When we landed in New Orleans, he gave him one of his shirts and I invited him to dinner later on in the week. We had dinner and I was able to ask him a lot of questions and he told me his inspiring story.
Bruce Thompson is one of the most down to earth and humble NFL players you will ever meet. Bruce and I bonded and made a friendship and he’s helping me with my journey and I’m helping share his.