Kevin Fixler
    Sport Matters

4 September 2014

Dr. Marshawn and Mr. Lynch: The two sides of the unpredictable Seahawks star

Marshawn Lynch, one of the best running backs in the NFL, moseys through the door of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Albany Bowl early Friday evening wearing all black: jeans, low tops and an oversized sweatshirt, hood up and tightly fastened with a bow over a backwards black hat. Printed on his hoodie in bright red are big, arced letters reading “LIFEGUARD” with a sizable red cross below them, followed by the large words “OAKLAND,” and “CALIFORNIA” underneath in smaller text.

“It is! It is him!” a waist-high little boy shrieks to his father before running toward Lynch. Others flock to him to offer hugs, dap and handshakes. The Oakland Tech and Cal product, still basking in the glow of February’s Super Bowl victory, disappears momentarily before returning to casually post up on a barstool. A handheld camera and boom mic have since picked up Lynch’s trail and a queue also takes shape so he can fulfill the individual photo requests. A young girl is beside herself, in a daze at standing mere feet from the 28-year-old.

The bowling night is part of a now four-day annual event put on by Lynch’s Fam 1st Family Foundation, a fundraiser to build a youth learning and development center in Oakland. He started the nonprofit with his cousin and high school teammate, fellow NFL player Josh Johnson of the San Francisco 49ers, the same year he elected to leave college a season early and was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 12th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft.

“We’re just trying to empower our inner-city youth,” Lynch explains to a few members of the media the next afternoon, “not just in our community, but communities around the world. We take the approach with … our foundation with just giving the best opportunity, putting our best foot forward with trying to give back to our community, to give opportunities to these kids that they don’t have. Just the opportunity for them to see us is really big.”

Read the full profile of Lynch on SB Nation.

Follow me on Twitter: @kfixler

Update (1/30/15): With Marshawn Lynch’s ongoing battle with the media once again front and center ahead of Super Bowl XLIX, the Columbia Journalism Review interviewed me about my experience pursuing him for this profile.

Update (3/6/15): Delighted to see that a few submissions for the NYT‘s Second Annual Student Editorial Contest included this story in their respective Works Cited.

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