December 08, 2022

By Dr. Valerie Wardlaw


You probably have heard of L.A. Rams defensive back David Long Jr.  Long, a football standout who grew up in Pasadena, became an outstanding player at the University of Michigan, was drafted by the Rams in 2019, and is a member of the 2022 Rams Super Bowl Championship team.  David Long Jr. is inspirational.  And in the words of Jay-Z, “By far, for me, the most important thing is inspiration.”

At the tender age of 25, Long has been to the N.F.L. mountaintop.  He recently made the sports highlight reels when he disrupted a deep pass thrown by Arizona Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy during week 10 of this N.F.L. season.  When you mention these accolades to him, he is proud for sure, but more meaningful for this Rams player is his ability to give back to the community that nurtured him and to meet and encourage Black and Brown kids who may never get the opportunity to talk to an actual N.F.L. player. 

The L.A. Watts Times had the opportunity to speak with David Long, Jr., and here is that conversation.

L.A. Watts Times: Congratu­lations, David, on your success and the success of the Michigan Wolverines.

David Long Jr.: Yes!  I’m happy for those guys, Coach Harbaugh, the staff, and everybody that’s been a part of changing the culture and having success.  I’m extremely happy for the program and the fans.  I am a very proud alum.

LAWT:  For those of us who have never attended a game at “The Big House” (the affectionate name for Michigan Stadium), can you describe what it’s like to play in “The Big House”?

DLJ: Wow…I think it is an experience that is second to none.  Every week, I got to play in front of a hundred thousand fans.   The environment is lively, and there is so much culture and history at Michigan Stadium; from running down and touching the banner to the bricks surrounding the stadium, it’s a special place. 

I remember my first time playing there as a freshman against Hawaii.   It was the most nervous I have ever been in a game because of the drastic transition.   You go from playing in front of two hundred people to 100,000 people, so I learned to love it and never took it for granted.   Every time I left the stadium, I would gaze around and just take it all in and try to remember the feeling you get from playing in “The Big House.”

LAWT:  You were a member of the 2022 Rams Super Bowl Championship team.   That championship ring is fantastic!   Have you worn yours yet, and what did you think when you first saw the ring?

DLJ: No, I haven’t worn it.  After the ceremony, I stored it in a safe place, not at home.  Many people joked about it, coaches and players that have won before, and they said, “you will probably never wear it much outside of the ceremony,” but it’s a great ring and the first one I have won in my career.

I knew the design would be crazy because the team that designed it would make it as grand as possible.  The ring made it real for me that we had won.   Before that, it was surreal, but the ring is tangible evidence that everything happened, that we are Super Bowl Champs.

LAWT: What aspects of playing in the N.F.L. surprised you?

DLJ:  Yes and no.  I came in during a transitional phase for the N.F.L. – we are under a new C.B.A. (collective bargaining agreement), and I’m a part of an organization that is cutting-edge in terms of the culture and the people I am around.  My experience is pretty unique.  I’ve gotten older and become more of a veteran player, and I can say that I am very grateful to be a part of this fraternity and the league.  I’ve been blessed to start my career here in terms of development and learning.  I get to do all of this from the comfort of my backyard.  I’m at home and didn’t have to go anywhere cold.

LAWT:  Were you surprised that the Rams drafted you?

DLJ:  Absolutely, I did not think I would get to come home based on the needs of the organization, but I did!

LAWT: You have gotten to play with Odell Beckham, Von Miller, and Aaron Donald.  Can you describe that experience?

DLJ:  They are lively, energetic, caring, and genuine people who want the best for you.   They contributed to our success on and off the field.   We have always had N.F.L. superstars on the team.   When I first arrived, I played with Todd Gurley, Aqib Talib, Clay Matthews, and Jared Goff.   They were just genuine people, and I loved that about them.

LAWT: I admire your commitment to giving back to students and the community.   What advice do you give to high school and college players who want to play professional football?

DLJ:  I tell them that there is no substitute for work.   Always put in the time and work.   The results will come, and good things will eventually happen for you.   You never know what moment you’re preparing for, so just continue to put in the time and work.

LAWT: Before entering the N.F.L., what player did you admire?

DLJ:  Kevon Seymour from Pasadena. He was the only person I knew who played Division 1 football and played in college and the pros.   Kevon made the dream of playing in the N.F.L. a reality for me and not just a pipe dream. 

Kevon was always accessible, so I try to make myself accessible.  It wasn’t physical resources that he gave me, but it was hope that he gave me.  I looked at him and said, I know someone who has made it to the N.F.L., so I can do it too.   He gave me hope and inspiration.

It’s one thing to see players on the field, but you don’t know them.  I was from Pasadena, and I could call and text, look at him, and model myself after him.  Kevon never withheld any information from me.   He said he fell short in many places, and he allowed me to get the information so I could go above and beyond.  I’m always trying to do that with the generation coming behind me, holding the space for people, and sometimes that means giving them resources, and sometimes it means giving them hope.

LAWT:  Final question – can you talk about what your mom has meant to your football journey?

DLJ:  My mom has always been a person that helps people.  Within our family, she is the person who makes things right.   Sometimes it was at the expense of her own time and well-being, so that trickled down to me.  My mom always talked to me about having a good heart.   It’s not always about money moves or lucrative things for me.   It’s about using your resources for the well-being of others, and my mom taught me that.

For more information on David Long Jr., visit





(Courtesy Photo)


(Courtesy Photo)



Category: News