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LeSean McCoy Talks Perseverance, Drive at Katz JCC

The Eagles running back told an audience at the annual sports awards dinner about his personal path to success.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy talks to a packed house at the Katz JCC Thursday night. Photo by Bryan Littel.
Eagles running back LeSean McCoy talks to a packed house at the Katz JCC Thursday night. Photo by Bryan Littel.

LeSean McCoy could've gone anywhere for college, but an ankle injury and academic problems his senior year of high school shunted him from a shot at the University of Miami to prep school.

And from there, the prospects were even thinner for the Harrisburg native, with the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State his likely suitors.

But it was that road back from injury and difficulties, McCoy told a packed house at the Katz JCC's annual sports awards night, and the chance then-coach Dave Wannstedt gave him that defined his path.

“He gave me a chance to regain my name, my title, myself,” McCoy said of the former Pitt coach.

That work and sacrifices he made along the way paid off quickly at Pitt, where he racked up 2,700 yards rushing in his first two years, and McCoy started getting phone calls.

“I'd done so well, so fast, NFL scouts told me I had a chance to play,” he said. “So many kids grow up wanting to be that athlete...I had the chance, and I took it.”

What he's done since is already the stuff of legend in Philadelphia—more than 5,000 yards rushing and 46 touchdowns in four-plus seasons, and a team record for rushing yards in a game.

Just days removed from 217-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Snow Bowl, where he set that record, the Eagles star and the NFL's leading rusher this season said when he was a kid, he never had dreams of being on television and making millions on the playing field.

“Growing up, my parents were so big on education and discipline,” McCoy said. “My goal in life as a kid...wasn't to be a professional athlete, I just wanted to please them.”

His father, who still works at UPS, instilled a sense of hard work in his early years, McCoy said, and it's something that carried him as he moved beyond the high school playing field and into college and the pros.

“That's where I get that attitude, that nature from—my father,” he said.

His nickname, though, he got from his mom, after the young McCoy would be affectionate one minute, only to not want to be anywhere near her the next.

"She said, 'that boy's shady'...and everybody picked up on it," he said. "But I'm not shady any more."

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