Falcons football player starts foundation to give back to local hometown

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:10 PM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - If you’re a Falcons fan you’ll have to keep your eye out this upcoming season for a little piece of Thomson on the team. John Atkins played football for Thomson High School then went on to play for the University of Georgia and now the Falcons. We’re looking at his journey to the NFL and how he’s still giving back to where he came from.

John Atkins the football player was a leader on the field. With his size and skills, he was bound to play division one football. But John Atkins the student didn’t have the same ambition growing up.

“I was the lazy type. I was really lazy,” said Atkins.

Many people remember Atkins as a bulldog. But few may remember him as a tiger, a Hargrave Military Academy tiger that is. Atkins had the skills to go to Georgia but not the grades. So he spent some time in Southern Virginia to improve his test scores.

“It really took for me to have that wake-up call of not qualifying for college and having to go to Hargrave and spend an extra six months there,” he said.

Now Atkins is trying to make sure students from his hometown don’t go through the same thing he did. He and his wife Princess started the John Atkins Foundation to focus on better education.

“Without school, there is no ball. It’s a student athlete. Student comes first,” he said.

The Atkins are starting a program this year to motivate kids to do well in school. Any parent whose student is on the honor roll can send the Atkins a picture of their report card, along with their name, grade, age, and jersey size. They’ll be entered into a drawing, with the winner getting three tickets to a Falcons game, and dinner with John and Princess after. They say they want this to motivate not only the students, but the parents as well.

“Sometimes we think we’re too busy for stuff like that but we’re not. They need it because our kids are our future,” said Princess Atkins.

John says he wants to be a role model for young student athletes because he didn’t have that growing up. And they say it’s easier for kids to hear from a pro athlete than just teachers and parents.

“Oh man, he told me that. If he can do it I can do it. It’s true,” he said.

They say they’re hoping to start up a tutoring service soon as well.

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