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Former Football Player Inspires Highland High School Students

Former professional football player turned inspirational speaker Shamiel Gary visited Highland High School (HHS) in April to teach students how to live their lives with purpose and with passion.

During his impressive athletic career, Gary played for the Chicago Bears, the Miami Dolphins, the Buffalo Bills, and the New England Patriots. He spoke during two grade-level assemblies about how he was able to overcome injuries and setbacks—both personally and professionally—to live a life filled with gratitude and success. He encouraged students to be present in each moment and to try to show up every day as the best version of themselves.

“People don’t hear what you say, they see what you do,” he said. “Honor yourself and the people around you with your actions. Think about what your actions say about who you are.”

Offering advice on how the Huskies can achieve their goals, Gary said that as long as they work hard and believe in themselves, they can make anything happen. He also recommended that the students surround themselves with the right people. 

“Right voices, right choices,” he said. “Friends are like elevators. They can either take you up or they can take you down.”

Before wrapping up his talk and sticking around to take photos, sign autographs, and tour the High School, Gary urged members of his audience to make good choices and be kind to themselves and to others.

“Every day we have the chance to make our future selves proud,” he said. “How do you want to be remembered when you leave this school or this Earth?” 

HHS Principal Kevin Murphy said he is grateful to Gary for taking the time to speak with the Highland students, and to the HHS PTSA for helping to make the visit happen.

“My goal as principal is to give students as many meaningful experiences as I can,” Murphy said. “It was truly special for these young people to have the opportunity to hear from a celebrity in the form of a former NFL athlete. I believe they were all able to relate to his story on some level, and I hope they can each take something away from the life lessons that he shared.”