Nnamdi Asomugha's Off-Field Impact
by robert strauss
Asomugha makes headlines for football—and for his charity causes.
Nnamdi Asomugha was just a young man visiting his parents’ native Nigeria when he saw a boy around his age wearing an old Lakers jersey of his; the shirt had been donated by his family to needy children. Asomugha then realized that what his parents taught him—to remember those less fortunate—would always be part of his life’s work.
Now in his second year with the Philadelphia Eagles and as a newly minted co-host of Channel 6 ABC’s postgame show Eagles Football Frenzy, Asomugha has made a name for himself, particularly known as a “shutdown” cornerback, one so good as a defender that quarterbacks often don’t even throw his way. But this success is only a basis for his fame and not the sum of his passions.
Through the Asomugha Foundation, his two major ongoing charity causes are Orphans and Widows in Need, which provides relief for women and orphans in Nigeria, and the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars. ACTS started in 2007, when Asomugha was playing for the Oakland Raiders. Its focus is to provide opportunities for traditionally underserved students who show promise academically to experience university life through campus tours and service projects.
Over the past five years, Asomugha has taken kids from California—and as of last year, from Philadelphia as well—to a different city each year for tours. “[The ACTS participants] may never go to that particular school again, but they learned that even they—from where they came from—can help others. It may seem like a small thing, but the service project is what gives these kids confidence and pride,” says Asomugha.
“I think a lot of the Eagles understand that, too, and you see more of them give their time, which is a real highlight of playing in Philly.” That’s thanks in part to Asomugha’s role as national ambassador for the United Way NFL partnership and head of Team NFL, which enlists one player from each NFL team to recruit volunteers as readers, tutors, and mentors. Asomugha has high hopes that the 2012 NFL season will be one of redemption for the team. He knows, too, that Eagles fans can be demanding and vocal, which is something he appreciates. “There is a pride in Philly that goes a long way back,” he says. “Everyone has everyone else’s back, and no one is afraid to say whatever they think. People have been good to me here.”
photography by getty images