NFL Player Fernando Velasco Embracing his Colombian Roots

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When Fernando Velasco was born in 1985, you could literally count on two hands the number of Hispanics that had played in the National Football League. Hispanic football players continue to make an impact on today’s game. 8 year NFL veteran Fernando Velasco’s dad was born in Colombia and married an African American woman. Born in New York but raised in Georgia, he spoke with MY Lifestyle Magazine about playing college ball at the University of Georgia, his journey to get in the pros and his foundation. Velasco also gave advice to struggling youth, how much longer he would like to play in the NFL and a trip someday to his homeland.

MY Lifestyle Magazine: Was your dad a football fan when you were growing up?

Fernando Velasco: My dad really loved soccer. He took a liking to football once I began to like football. (Fernando started playing football at 8 years old.)

MLM: Was there a time when your dad was not around you?

FV: Yes. My father was imprisoned but I managed to get ahead and one of my greatest achievements was to graduate school.

MLM: So it was important for you to leave college with a degree?

FV: For me, it was very important. That was the goal of mine the minute I stepped on campus to make sure I finished. I knew I was going to have kids and I wanted them to know how important education was.

MLM: Unfortunately there are many kids who grow up in one family households with no father figure to guide them along. What message would you have for those kids who face adversity?

FV: I would inspire them to know that although there are bad things in the world you can persevere. To be positive no matter what happens and keep pushing. Despite the bad things, we must go forward. No matter what happens to you. I want to be an example for children to know that we must continue walking despite the storm.

MLM: What do you miss most about the college experience?

FV: The passion from the fans. Playing in front of 93,000 people very week. The are very passionate. More than anything I just miss my teammates, my brothers. You come to college with those guys and do every single thing with them. You really get to know the guys over time.

MLM: After college, was there a time when you didn’t think you would make it in the pros?

FV: I thought to get to the NFL was, put on the clothes and start playing. I realized I had to develop my abilities because they had players with bigger size. I was worried not knowing what was going to happen but God had a purpose for me. It was a hard process but my wife became my staff. It was she who pushed me.

Carolina won 15 of 16 regular season games and won 2 playoffs games getting them to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Denver defense shut down the Panthers in the 24-10 loss. Velasco talked about his experience playing in the game, how much longer he would like to play and what he wants to discover about his Colombia roots.

MLM: Despite losing the game, what was it like playing in the Super Bowl?

FV: It meant so much. It was a great experience something I will remember for the rest of my life. Obviously we didn’t get the win and that was disappointing. For all of my family and friends to get to enjoy the game, it was something special. San Francisco was dressed in red and white. It was an enviable environment. There were nearly 70 thousand people. I looked up and felt the grandstand joined with the sky. My legs were shaking. It was an unforgettable moment.

MLM: What are you most proud of as a result of playing professional football?

FV: Three years ago my wife and I started the Right Choices Foundation.We’re trying to inspire and encourage kids to help them work on their character mainly through athletics. In the next couple of weeks we’ll be giving out more than 3,000 books to elementary school kids to encourage literacy. It’s something we’re really passionate about.

MLM: How much longer do you see yourself playing and what do you want to do after your career is over?

FV: My body feels good and I think I can play another 2 or 3 three years. After that, I want to get into coaching or player development to help and encourage student athletes. I want to tell my story, share my experience to help mold them into better athletes.

MLM: What do you want to explore about your Columbian roots:

FV: One of the things I have to do is travel to Colombia. Knowing my heritage and my roots. I like to travel and try the food. It is something I want to do.

MLM: Who would you like to share that journey with?

FV: I am a very family person. For me it is important to maintain [that] relationship.
Its organization Right Choices Foundation gives kids an opportunity to succeed even if sports is something they do not want to pursue. It is because of his support to kids that MY Lifestyle Magazine and Inca kola in collaboration with Business Latino awarded him the Community Outreach Award in San Francisco.

MY Lifestyle Magazine
MY Lifestyle Magazine

The first boutique publication for bicultural chic Latinos. An exclusive look inside the lives of this powerful, well respected and admired Latino celebrity family! My Lifestyle Magazine is fashion, health, beauty, entertainment, travel, and, of course, New York City lifestyle. It’s high-quality and ready for consumption – free of charge. Our magazine is designed for educated, cosmopolitan Latinos (men and women) in NYC, with international interests, who are also bilingual (English and Spanish languages). But we are not a magazine exclusively for Latinos. We have a substantial International following and, for this reason, 75% of our content is English-language driven. We welcome readers of all races and cultures to enjoy what our product has to offer.

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