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Inside Nahshon Wright’s inspirational journey to the NFL

Nahshon Wright’s NFL dreams are about to come true.

Football was always a staple in the former James Logan star’s life. Both he and his brother, Rehzojn. If Nahshon Wright could play football for free, he would.

Football was always there for him. It helped him land a scholarship to Oregon State to play football. It helped him earn a college education, as he is set to earn a bachelor’s degree. 

It opened up endless possibilities for his future, whether inside the sport or outside of it, and Nahshon Wright is grateful to be here today, just moments away from getting a call from a National Football League franchise to put him on their roster.

“I wasn’t one of those kids that I didn’t complain about being a, the pay that they were giving college students because me, my biggest thing was going to play Division I,” Nahshon Wright said. “Money wasn’t my issue. The little money that I did get from the school, that I pay my rent, what I had left over, I was satisfied with that. It was fun. It’s been a crazy journey, and it still is. But those are my driving forces.”

Trials and tribulations

The journey for Nahshon Wright was never easy, though. 

In high school, Nahshon Wright fell behind in the classroom at James Logan as a freshman and had to play catch up after that. He spoke to a few colleges, but nothing materialized.

Grades weren’t his thing early on. Heck, his mother, Sadio Simon, pulled him out of a Pop Warner game because of his grades.

“Literally the next week I did everything I needed to do to raise my grades,” Nahshon Wright said. “I knew it was easy. I just didn’t want to do it. It was just about me applying myself.”

He looked himself in the mirror. He saw his friends at school talking about their high grades.

Why couldn’t he do it? He was competitive and tired of seeing others succeed while he was behind.

“I’m a competitor,” Nahshon Wright said. “I’m a competitor at heart and in anything that I do, so I think when your friends are talking about what their grades are, having good grades and just stuff like that, and you don’t have nothing to show for it. It’s kind of like, ‘Well, damn. What have I been doing?’”

So, he ended up in junior college, first at the City College of San Francisco, then San Mateo and then Laney College – where his family’s story, particularly his brother’s story, was shared as part of the Netflix series Last Chance U.

At Laney College, Nahshon Wright’s family was living in Stockton, providing a long commute through Northern California. Without traffic, Nahshon Wright could make the trek in an hour. But with traffic, that could take a few hours. 

He would wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get to school by 8 a.m. because of traffic. Practice would end at 5:30 p.m., yet those were peak traffic hours, so he and his brother would hangout at a friend’s house until traffic died down until around 6:30 or 7 p.m.

“I had to learn how to prioritize and learn time management for sure,” Nahshon Wright said. “I was working a little job for a while when I was at Laney, so I was getting a little money from that, and then coach (John) Beam – he helped me get on the work studies, so I got paid every month from the school. I would have to go around and clean up, just do little things around the school. And then I was getting financial aid, so I just had to learn how to save my money and basically prioritize. I was fortunate enough to have both my grandparents help me buy a car, so we bought a reliable car, so we were able to drive from Stockton to Oakland every day.”

While in junior college, life got harder for Nahshon Wright’s family, too, as they went through the most overwhelming pain a family could ever imagine. 

His father, Jamal Wright, was shot and killed in 2017 while breaking up a fight at a club. Those first couple of months were extremely tough on Nahshon Wright, never thinking a situation like this could ever happen. It was just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

But Nahshon Wright’s family got through that. They became a tighter unit. Nahshon Wright, his mother, grandparents, stepbrothers, his brother – everyone was in it together. 

“We just got close and kind of just continue to believe in God and his purpose and what he has for us and his plan,” Nahson Wright said. “Just knowing that my dad is still here in spirits. He’s still present, just not in physical form. We just vibe. I know for like a while I would go see my grandma at least every other week and just go sit there and talk to her because that’s her son. Just little things like that. Just getting together more.”

How did Nahshon Wright get through it? 

He tried to carry on his father’s legacy. 

“There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about my dad because sometimes there’s little things that I will see or that will just happen and it will bring up a memory of my dad. It’s every day with my dad,” Nahshon Wright said. “My dad – I talk to him every day, so I see him every day. When I’m going through a lift and it’s getting tough, kind of just I hone in and start to think about what I went through with my dad.”

Overcoming it all

Nahshon Wright overcame that adversity, and it only made him stronger. And look at what he has accomplished in this journey.

At Laney College, he was a state champion in 2018 and was recruited by countless college football programs. Boise State, Hawaii, San Diego State, San Jose State and Weber State all offered, along with one Power Five school in Oregon State. 

It was Oregon State who won the sweepstakes, and it was far bigger than just football. 

“The guys that just brought me in, like when I got there nothing had changed from the time they recruited me to the time I left,” Nahshon Wright said. “Like coach (Jonathan) Smith, so when I left college early he could have taken me off scholarship and not let me have finished classes, but coach Smith’s thing was like, ‘Look. I promised you that we would help you get a degree, so as long as you handle your business in the classroom, you can continue to take classes.’”

At Oregon State, the success only continued for Nahshon Wright. He tallied five career interceptions, was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 honoree as a junior before declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.

“The timing was just right,” Nahshon Wright said. “I think that I did pretty good in terms of last season. I put together enough film I think to take it to the next level, so I think it was just timing. It wasn’t nothing, I wasn’t pressured into it. It was kind of just it naturally just happened. Just going through the season and at some point I was just like, ‘I think I’m ready.’ That was it.”

Giving back

Nahshon Wright will graduate from Oregon State with a degree in sociology, as he dreams of giving back to his family and East Palo Alto, where he grew up and watched all of the work he put in in that city pay off.

One influence in his life has always been Eric Washington Jr., whose list of athletes he has trained spans from five-star recruits like Troy Franklin (University of Oregon) and Washington’s cousin, Davante Adams. 

Washington is a life coach and far more than a football coach. He helps people find their passion and their dreams. He helps mold them into the next stars of the world.

Someday, Nahshon Wright wants to be like Washington. He wants to put something in East Palo Alto where student-athletes can go to study hall after school for an hour or two, workout and then have something to eat before they head home. 

“I want to do something like that and kind of let Eric take charge of it because I know how good he is with kids,” Nahshon Wright said. “I just want to be able to give back. I want to be able to use my platform to give back because growing up I kind of wish I had somebody with this type of profile that kind of gave me back, which would have made the community better too. So I want to give back to kids, not just East Palo Alto, like everywhere.” 

There is also much more Nahshon Wright wants to do.

For years, he watched what his mother did while he was growing up. She raised three kids, mainly by herself, and was working part-time and temporary jobs.

Ten years ago, the fortunes of the family would change forever. She had been on the waitlist to become a longshoreman, and then she got the call.

That work ethic inspired Nahshon Wright whenever he was in the classroom or stepped out on the field.

“Before that, she was busting her tail to make sure we had everything we needed,” Nahshon Wright said. “We had shoes, clothes and a roof over our head and food to eat. I think my mom is where I get my work ethic from, just seeing how hard she went for me and my brothers kind of made me want to make sure when I got to a certain point in my life where I could help my mom. I’m almost there. There’s still a lot more work to be done.”

And he’s trying to make it easier on his mother and his entire family.

Nahshon Wright’s grandmother is working in Texas. He wants to make it to where she doesn’t have to work anymore. His grandfather, who has been with him every step of the way, is about to retire. 

“It will mean the world to me just to be able to put people in positions to better themselves,” Nahshon Wright said.

Dreams coming true

This weekend, Nahshon Wright will get the call from somewhere that his league dreams will come true.

Since his career ended at Oregon State, Nahshon Wright was working on everything to get ready for this moment. He was working on muscle endurance, the 40-yard dash, three-cone and L drills. Defensive back workouts. Explosiveness. His vertical. 

Multiple NFL teams have been in contact with Nahshon Wright. What he knows is that they will get someone invested in the franchise, someone who is fully committed to the entire process and someone who can fit anywhere.

With Nahshon Wright seeing the NFL seeing more man coverage now, he can really fit in with that. He’s succeeded in press coverage throughout his career. And he can play zone coverage. Just turn on the tape and see what he did versus the Pac-12.

“They’re going to get a hardworking kid, a kid that’s going to come in and work his tail off, a kid with high IQ, a kid that loves the game of football, great ball skills,” Nahshon Wright said. “I can press. A kid of many talents. I can do everything.”

This was a time Nahshon Wright was made for. He dreamed of winning multiple Super Bowls, which is just what he wants to do.

He’s ready to come in and do whatever he can for a team. Play defensive back. Play on special teams.

Maybe he will reach Canton, Ohio someday. 

“I want to win as many Super Bowls as possible,” Nahshon Wright said. “Hopefully get a gold jacket. Just those little things. And then of course use my platform to help younger kids because there’s a lot of kids that look up to professional athletes, so just continue to be a good role model for the youth and just stuff like that.”

This was a moment Nahshon Wright could have given up on, too.

When his father passed, his heart was broken. He remembers the times when his grades were low and couldn’t go straight to a Division I school out of high school. 

What he knows is that he can get through anything. Nothing will phase him. He’s been through the absolute worst and comes out on top despite every obstacle thrown his way.

“Whatever you’re going through in life, just know that it’s not the end,” Nahshon Wright said. “You’ve still got a lot of life left in you and just continue to grind. I don’t think, especially kids that are trying to take this path. Whatever you’re going through, it’s probably tougher than what you’re going to go through in football, those little conditioning hours that you’ve got to do and the little study hall hours that you’ve got to do. It won’t be harder than what you’re going through, so just continue to grind, keep pushing and keep school first because school is what’s going to get you further in life.”

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