2016 started with new faces, new connections and new learning experiences. I had the dubious honor to be introduced via a mutual friend to Tavon Mason. This wonderful human being has a true story to tell that I feel would be best described in his words only. I had a wonderful conversation with him over the holidays while he was on his way to a childrens event and got to know a little bit more. Not only about his NFL career with the NY Jets and his foundation Tavon Mason Loves the kids Foundation but also a little bit about him personally. Say hello to Tavon Mason!
Hello Tavon! Can you tell my readers about you and how you came to be who you are today?
My name is Tavon Mason and I became who I am by working hard and never giving up on my dream. I chased my dream through pop warner sports, high school sports and getting the opportunity to receive a full scholarship to the University of Virginia to play football. I did something that a small margin of young men get to do and that was make it to the NFL.
Awesome! Where were you born/raised and how did you come to settle in Baltimore or the DMV?
I was born and raised on the West side of Baltimore, MD. My schooling began at George St. elementary in the Murphy Holmes Housing projects. My brother and I attended the same elementary school and we would stay at my grandmothers on Franklin St. My family and I lived in Edmonson Village and from there we moved to Baltimore County. My parents migrated this way from Southern Maryland. My mom was born in LaPlata, MD. and my dad was born in St. Mary’s, MD.
So what made you decide to do what you do and how has the impact on community changed your life?
I always wanted to be in the NFL and after joining Woodlawn Rec. in the 5th grade, football along with basketball and baseball taught me discipline in the classroom and at home and curved my curiosity of the street life. As I got better and better and recognized I knew I could make it to the NFL and knowing that I needed to have great grades I decided to make sure I was doing my job in the classroom in order to make it where I wanted to go. Getting A’s and B’s and graduating with a 3.65 GPA out of high school and signing my letter of intent to attend The University of Virginia impacted the community greatly. It impacted the community at that time because it was televised and graduating from Woodlawn High School a school known for fights and violence gave a different complexion to the school. I also noticed a difference in my school by the younger students (Freshmen, Sophomores etc.) They now look up to me because I was a great student at Woodlawn and a great athlete and I was always in the newspaper. That began to change my life to the extent that I made sure I did my best and stayed clear of any trouble. We have had others go to college for sports but to attend a college such as UVA with the grades I had was great, I wanted to make sure I made everyone proud.
What inspires you to do what you do?
After finishing college and getting my opportunity to play in the NFL and arena football, I knew I had to do something to give back to the community because to me it was my right to do it. While I was trying to get back in the league in 2006 to 2009, I would help the younger athletes in my trainers gym by coaching them up to make them better as they got older. In 2011 is when I jumped started the Tavon Mason Loves the Kids Foundation and in 2012 I begin an all-out mission to help kids get healthy, fit and I promoted education. In 2012 I hosted my first Sports fit day at Matthew Henson elementary school and from then more and more ideas came about and it has grown to doing more outside of my mission to promote health. We have held our own health expo, jumped started our annual Character slipper drive for various children’s hospitals and an annual visit to a women and children’s shelter. The thing that inspires me is seeing the children’s faces when I come to visit different schools, hospitals, church etc. how excited they are to see me. I see it as I am just like you but that thing that makes it great is they get to interact with me. They get to touch me and hug me and talk to me. I am a guy from west Baltimore city who had struggles and made it to the NFL and if that makes them happy and inspires them than I all for it. I love when I get to speak to high school students because I open up to them on my personal life and how if you continue to fight and separate yourself from those that try to keep down it will get you to where you want to be. I love letting the students know that I grew up in Baltimore City and that I love being a nerd and the kids that are afraid to let it be known that they are smart always come up to me and thank me for saying that it’s cool to be a nerd.
Tell me what was the biggest obstacle in achieving your success?
This may be funny but the biggest obstacle in my life was ME! I went in reverse when I got to college. What I mean by reverse is I got freedom from home and the world grew larger and me playing at a big school made me smell myself. I didn’t think I had to go to class and I almost got sent home twice because of my grades. If I didn’t buckle down and get myself together I wouldn’t be doing this interview with you lol. That’s why I preach education before anything I talk about to the youth.
Describe for my readers what your initial experience was like and what was the upside/downside of the experience?
The initial experience with starting my organization was tough because despite being a former NFL player, people want to see what you’re about. So many individuals have organizations and foundation and a lot of them use it to get money and recognition and not necessarily to help the community. So it took honestly until 2014 that people began to take me serious about my mission to help.
Is there anything you would change about what you do ?
Honestly I wouldn’t change anything, each year I look to improve the mission of the organization and evolve it to make it better and better and engaging.
What is your advice to young people who find interest in what you do?
I would tell them to get their education first because at the end of the day if you’re not together it’s hard to lead others. Always believe in yourself and no idea is a dumb idea and never quit. The slogan for my foundation and I talk about it a lot is “Dare to be Great”
How has family played a part in your success?
Family has played a part in my success by the support they have given. I am newly married and even before my wife and I got married she supported my games as a coach and events and initiatives with my organization. My entire family have supported me whether getting slippers for my slipper drive to posting my events and posting my website.
Is there any one thing that you constantly do/say that makes a difference in the outcome of what you do?
The one thing I do constantly is pray, stay motivated and positive and believe that I am here for a reason and my purpose is a great one that will help change the complexion of the world. I post my own quotes that I create daily to help someone else when they hit a wall
What is in store for the future?
The future has some great things for me. I have a children’s book out titled “TAVONDOESITALL” which can be purchased at dtlibypublishing.com and at Amazon.com. We are looking to get my book in stores and in the schools. It has an awesome lesson for younger children to learn. Also looking to pick keep expanding the foundation to become a house hold name outside of Maryland.
How can my readers reach you or make contributions to you or your organization?
It’s simple and I tell people who I come into contact with go to my website and it will tell you a full length story about me and what we do.
Go to www.tavonmasonlovesthekids.org,
my Instagram information is @mr_tmason,
@tavonmasonlovesthekids, Twitter is @TMLTKF and
@TMASON18, Facebook is Tavon Mason and TavonMason lovesthekidsfoundation
Ladies and gentleman. Hard work, determination, persistance and living the dream. What more motivation is there? When you put your mind to it and have the right influence, anything is possible! Thank you Tavon Mason for a wonderful look into what you do and the road it took to get there!