I definitely wouldn't be in the position I am today if it wasn't for Tony Perry.
You can Google him if you want.
I won't name everybody, but he got a bunch of defensive backs in the league and became the DB Guru.
He passed away on Nov. 11 and services were held Saturday.
He didn't let anyone touch his DBs. He was really sensitive about his DBs. I can see God telling him, 'Man, it's your time. It's your time to go.' And I can see him telling God, 'Nah, man, no one can touch my DBs.' And I can see God using one of his words, like, 'You the coldest. It's time. You've got to come to heaven because you the coldest. You the baddest." T.P. accepted it.
My offensive coordinator, Phillip Shelley, in high school, those two were really good friends and my sophomore and junior year, I made a three-hour drive every weekend for two years straight, just to get work. I got a lot of exposure and got a lot of good work when I was getting recruited as a DB. He kind of put me in a position with my name being bounced around on Rivals and Scout.com and things of that nature when I was in high school. The exposure and the dedication and pushing yourself and those things, I got all from T.P.
When I was getting recruited, I was heavily recruited in high school as a DB — from Cal to Oregon State, Washington State, Nebraska. I definitely was in the DB Guru group. It's not even the fact that you had to be a DB to get into this group. If you just were a kid that wanted to play college football and use football as an education tool, he'd accept you in. That's what he talked about. When he went down to the College of Sequoias, I was going to go down there to go play DB for him. When I decided to make the move to go play junior college football, I went down to the College of Sequoias, I was going to play for him, but he knew, like I knew, that my heart was in playing running back. He knew that just watching me play in high school. He had no hard feelings and even when I was at Laney, he was just keeping in touch with me. That was a good thing. Even though he was the DB Guru, he accepted you no matter what you wanted to be.
What he did for the community of Fresno, it's just amazing.
You hear that west of Fresno — that's the tougher part of Fresno — that kids grew up in, kind of like north Vallejo, the situation I was in, when you've got a guy who's letting you know that you can be better in life, he gives you that. Life is not made for you to come in and take it away. Life is made for you to come in and do something humongous. And that's something that he did. He put that in all of us. He instilled that in all of us, which is really, really amazing.
He inflated the kid with confidence. He pushed it so much: confidence, confidence, confidence, confidence. Be confident in yourself, be confident in your craft, but work on your craft. It's hard work. Those are the best memories that I have of T.P.
He came down to my camp in the summer of 2016. So he got to talk to my kids in my community, and he brought a couple kids down from Fresno to join the camp, which was fun. It was just crazy. When you think back, I was 15 or 16 making that drive to Fresno every day, and now at 25 or 26, he was driving down bringing kids to my camp.
It's crazy how life comes full circle.
My foundation, helping kids that way, came from what I learned from T.P. Having the Dreams Never Die Foundation now, a lot of the teachings I got from T.P. will be instilled in those kids back in my community because that's something he would have told me.
It's just huge, especially coming from the communities and parts of the towns we grew up in. It's just huge that you've got that one guy who believes in you, who's telling you, 'You need to believe in yourself at a high level.' It's amazing. It's huge, and T.P.'s definitely going to be missed.
The service was beautiful.
I asked V.J. if I could go. I told him how much this really means to me, how close he was to me and, pretty much, V.J. said it was good and I gave him all the details, told him it would be in Fresno, which is about two hours away from San Francisco. I flew in Friday night, went to the visitation and got to spend some time with the family, of course, because I know them. Because we played in Oakland, I got to fly in Friday night. Then everyone else flew in Saturday morning for the funeral and the service. I was there until about 1 o'clock and then drove down to San Francisco.
I saw some people I hadn't seen in a very long time. T.J. McDonald, I see him this week. He was one of those guys we worked with. I played against Rob Golden plenty of times when we played Pittsburgh, but I got to see him. I hadn't gotten to see him in a while. Tyrone Viney, who is Courtney Viney's dad, it's been a while since I'd seen him. It just felt good. Even Ricky Manning Jr., who is a coach for the Seahawks, they played San Francisco, so while he was driving to Santa Clara, I'm driving to San Francisco. It's just been a while since I've seen a bunch of the guys that I grew up working out with and had been around with.
And then looking at the kids he has now, and his grandkids who are struggling, they were all there in their Edison Tigers jerseys. You could tell everybody was proud to be an Edison Tiger because of T.P. Looking at those kids and having those kids ask us our stories gave those kids the same hope. Even though T.P.'s not here, we're still taking T.P.'s teaching.
Our teachers live on. Everything that he teaches lives through us.