Colin Thompson – “What is a True Underdog?”

Starting younger than we can even remember, we hear stories of an underdog who learns to succeed. Naturally, stories about them are some of our favorite stories to hear about. We all know an underdog as someone who overcame their odds, no matter how great they were. But, as I was thinking about some of my favorite examples of underdog stories, I wanted to know what truly made them succeed. Is it their determination? Their hard work? Or is it just plain luck? We all have things that seem impossible to overcome but these stories prove that anything is possible.

As I have grown up and my interests developed, I have found many of my favorite actors, music artists, and athletes. I quickly noticed that all of my favorite celebrities were once seen as underdogs. The idea that they came from nothing and became who they are today gravitated to me. I always loved reading stories and watching documentaries about how these people overcame their situations. It is in my belief that it is part of human nature because we all feel like an underdog at some point in our lives. Whether that be In schooling, athletics, or a profession, it doesn’t matter. These peoples stories inspire countless people to follow in their footsteps and pursue their dreams. To me personally, there have been three well known celebrities whose stories spoke out and inspired me through my tough times. To answer my question of what truly makes an underdog, I want to dive deep into these three celebrities to find their similarities. These three are famous rapper Eminem and three time Super Bowl champion Julian Edelman. They all have completely different stories and backgrounds but have one major similarity. They proved everyone wrong to fulfill their goal and became known by our entire nation.

I have been influenced by rap music since I was younger than I can remember. With two significantly older brothers they got their own music taste much earlier than I did. This meant that before then, I would only ever listen to rap. So when I finally started to explore music, Eminem was one of my first discoveries. I started out with a song or two by him but quickly started to explore his whole discography. He has countless songs talking about his past and that intrigued me to learn more about who he really was and where he came from.

Eminem was born Marshall Mathers in St. Joseph, Missouri. His father quickly left him and his mother never to be seen again. With his leaving, Marshall’s mother quickly became addicted to drugs and was extremely poor, meaning that they had to move from place to place for most of his early years of life. They eventually settled in Detroit where he would spend the remainder of his young years. During this time, he would obtain an interest in superheroes and comic books. This obsession along with him being the quiet new kid made him an easy target for bullying. He was constantly beaten and pushed around one time so bad he went into a coma for 10 days. This led him to become more obsessed with superheroes and the fact that they were stronger than anyone else. He was a loner but eventually got much closer to his uncle Ronnie who was around his age.

It was Ronnie who first introduced Marshal to hip-hop music. He quickly became obsessed with rap and the way they bent the words together making them rhyme when normally they did not. This is when he started to write his own lyrics and songs dreaming to become something more. Living in a city primarily filled with African American people, he faced a lot of hate being a white rapper. At that time, the only rappers who were white were seen as jokes because they tried to make comedic songs. It was during this hard time in Marshal’s life when one of the biggest tragedies he encountered occurred. His only friend and the person who meant most to him in his life commit suicide. This sent Marshal into a deep depression as he felt more alone than ever. He felt more lonely, sad, and worthless than ever before and this is when Marshal decided to attempt suicide.

Thankfully, he survived and a turn happened in his life. This is the part of Eminem’s story that I believe needs to be highlighted. He was at the lowest point that anyone can be at. Marshal had no friends, a drug addict mother, hated by many for doing what he loved, and had no father. After the breaking point of his attempted suicide, life suddenly started to work out for him. He started to build a name by freestyling rap battles against other people around Detroit until he became respected by most. Eventually, he heard about a thing in California called the rap olympics. This was a massive tournament style rap battle that got attention from all the big labels. He spent all his money for a place ticket there and prepared harder than you could even imagine. He ended up placing second which Marshal was sad about until the most important moment in his life occurred. Dr Dre, one of the most respected producers in rap, noticed him and called for a meeting. Within a couple weeks Eminem was born. He made the widely well known songs the real slim shady, and my name is each going platinum multiple times. He won multiple Grammys and countless awards for these songs. Eminem then released two albums, the Slim Shady LP and the Marshall Mathers LP, the first going four times platinum and the second going diamond. Even though this was a great time for Eminem, his struggles were far from over.

With his fame, a drug addiction appeared as well. He became addicted to any pill he could find to the point where he was never really sober. Eventually, his best friend, nicknamed proof, ended up getting killed in a bar fight. This put Eminem into a bigger depression than ever to the point where he couldn’t sleep. He started taking bottles and bottles of sleeping pills such as Vicodin and Valium just to help him be able to sleep at night. But, one night he took so many he crashed. Marshal was rushed to the hospital and it wasn’t looking like he was going to make it. He was later told that the amount of pills he took was the equivalent of six bags of heroin and he was less than five minutes away from death. This sparked another change in his life causing him to become sober and take a turn in his life.

Eminem now is recognized worldwide as one of the greatest rappers to ever live. He is named the best selling artist of the 21st century, has 15 Grammys, and even an Oscar. Marshall Mathers went from nothing to becoming the biggest artist of the last 20 years. Through all his hardships, he powered through and showed true strength by overcoming countless obstacles. The next person who has always spoken out to me is Julian Edelman. He is a former NFL wide receiver with three super bowl rings, a super bowl MVP, and the second most playoff relieving yards and receptions in NFL history. But, if you ask anyone, he shouldn’t have any of those recognitions. Julian was born in California and was raised playing football from a young age. His father Frank coached him as soon as Julian could walk. Before high school, he dominated every league he played in as a quarterback. But there was one problem, he was tiny. Most quarterbacks have to be decently tall to be able to see over the huge linemen. Julian was different. He was barely five feet tall coming into high school which made him get called off countless times. He spent the next couple years crying to his father and praying that he would grow because football was his dream. Finally, going into his senior year he grew to be around 5 foot ten and he wasn’t going to let this opportunity go to waste. He worked harder than ever and again dominated his league back at starting quarterback. Even with Julian’s dominant season, no colleges wanted to take him. He finally got an offer from the College of San Mateo, a community college in California.

Again, Julian dominated. He was first in nearly every stat possible for a quarterback. Even with these accomplishments, he still was ignored by all division one schools except for one. Kent State university wanted him to play there so without hesitation, Julian transferred for his sophomore year. When he got there, the first thing Julian did was go up to the current starting quarterback and told him that he was the new starting quarterback for this school. Sure enough, he was able to win the starting job and the rest was over. He showed everyone what they were missing throughout the rest of his college career. He was faster than everyone and ran more yards than many running backs did in college. When it was time for the NFL draft though, Julian had to face a hard reality. He was still too small to be an NFL quarterback. Over the off season, he trained for countless hours every single day in an attempt to switch positions. He had never played wide receiver before but had the perfect body type for it. Even still, no team wants to draft a player that they have never seen play at their position.

Late into the draft he finally got a call from the New England Patriots. They asked him if we wanted to play for them and obviously, he agreed. Julian Edelman was picked at number 232 in the 2009 NFL draft. Anyone who is a fan of football knows that no one picked that late ever makes it far into the league. One of the few exceptions, Tom Brady, would become Edelman’s teammate. Julian’s first few years in the NFL were widely unnoticed. He returned punts and rarely played any receiver but that wasn’t good enough for him. He continued to practice, work out, and get to know his team for years until he finally got a chance to be a key player on offense. In 2013 Edelman started to play more and more receiver and played extremely well. For the next two years, he got over two thousand yards. His team was winning a great amount of games and was seen as one of the best teams. I’m 2015, the Patriots reached the biggest game imaginable, the Super Bowl. It was a close game versus the Seattle Seahawks. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots were down by 10 points but had the ball. They scored a field goal and got the ball again. Julian Edelman got the game winning touchdown to win the Patriots the Super Bowl.

After this year, Edelman was considered to be better than ever. Julian Edelman once again helped take his team to the Super Bowl. This game is now one of the most famous NFL games of all time. The Patriots started off extremely slow making themselves down by 25 points halfway through the third quarter. They looked terrible. But, with some skill, determination, and luck, they started to dig out of their hole. Throughout the rest of the game, the Patriots had the falcons score no points while they were only behind by a touchdown now. On their next drive, the Patriots needed a play more than ever. Edelman had gotten a reputation to be the clutch guy to be thrown to and on this throw, it was tipped and should’ve hit the ground. But, somehow Edelman pinned the ball against his arm and a player on the other team’s leg. This catch has been extremely famous ever since being known as one of the most clutch moments in sports history. The Patriots eventually fully came back and won that super bowl. While the Patriots made it to the super bowl after this year, Edelman unfortunately wasn’t there due to an ACL tear. The Patriots lost the super bowl but were onto the next season. Julian Edelman had another great year, playing better than ever and working once again to the super bowl. This time it was against the Rams and the Patriots wanted another ring. The game was very slow paced with little points. Neither offense could score on the other team’s defense. No player could do anything except Julian Edelman. He was the only one catching anything, building up more yards at one point than the Rams had as a team. He once again led his team to a super bowl ring, winning MVP.

While Edelman’s career is nothing less than special, many people don’t see him to be any spectacular player. But, when taken into consideration the fact that he was never a wide receiver until the NFL, his accomplishments speak for themselves. Julian Edelman retired this offseason due to an injury that he could not beat.

Both Eminem and Julian Edelman had a very tough path to follow. Neither were given anything to them. Both of these role models made their own route and did what they wanted to do. That is what makes an underdog. These two people and countless others ignored everyone else and worked harder than anyone else to have their dream come true. It has become obvious that an underdog isn’t luck or skill, it is ignoring every other person’s comments and working harder than imaginable. Underdogs truly follow their dreams.

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