“Feeling is not a female thing, not a male thing, it’s a human thing,” says NFL player Ryan K. Russell.
Russell, a Purdue University graduate, has started and played in the NFL since 2015, for the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive end. He is currently a free agent and last played for the Buffalo Bills after recovering from a dislocated left shoulder.
Russell has a joy and passion for helping people with the transparency of abandonment and finding one’s self in life. His mission stems from providing guidance and assistance for others who suffer with challenges he faced at a young age.
“I have this passion or desire to help boys who are in my situation,” added Russell. “We are all more than one talent and one dream. We are multifaceted and phenomenal beings with unlimited capabilities.”
At just 7-years-old, he wrote his first poem after the death of his stepfather. He found that writing allowed him to express his true feelings. “I started writing to understand what I’m feeling, what I’m going through… all those great things.”
Russell at first doubted the idea of writing poetry until he realized it was something personal that he could relate to his experiences.
Christopher Poindexter, a well-known bohemian poet reached out to Russell and expressed his pleasure and potential he saw in the 27-year-old athlete and writer.
His help and guidance he received from Poindexter pushed him to fully explore the dynamic of poetry, as he even served as Russell’s publisher.
Going forward, he recently developed his first novel Prison or Passion, which captures the struggles of being a young boy without a father, and the strength that comes from building your own definition of manhood.
He uses hardships as an example of making individuals stronger, no matter what circumstances are, perseverance should always follow.
“These things that I thought were holding me back, things that I thought were keeping me down or separating me from having happiness were really fueling my passion to be the best person that I could be,” says Russell on the duality of the title.
Russell describes his novel as ‘‘subtle cries of a young boy and the creation into the man that would have protected him, ensuring that his words will become your personal creed—and will call you to protect the young and innocent.’’
The dynamic of being a professional NFL player and a writer can give young individuals guidance who are interested in pursuing more than one dream or passion.
“I love the feedback I’m getting from my book,’’ Russell said. “This gives me another level to connect. I’m a huge advocate for youth and I always felt that I could only talk to football players or athletes… but now with my book, I’ve found a way for everyone to express themselves.” Ryan is hoping to publish his first full length novel this summer along with looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL this upcoming season.