Monday, March 15, 2010

Contra Costa Times: Cal football's 'big brother' keeps youths on straight and narrow

Therapy comes in many forms. Some seek professional help; others confide in loved ones.  Kevin Parker is comforted by hanging out with murderers and bank robbers.  Parker is a recruiting assistant for Cal's football program, but that doesn't begin to define him. Shaped by a rough Oakland upbringing, a college football career at the University of Oregon and an innate urge to give back, Parker is a self-proclaimed "servant of others" who has become a big brother to Cal football players while simultaneously lending a hand to his community.  "The thing about KP is it's not just about football," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said. "It's more about life. It's about making good decisions. He's been through a lot of hard times. The players and staff respect and admire him so much for who he is and what he does."

Parker played running back at Oregon when Tedford was the offensive coordinator there in 1998. Parker had a short stint in the Arena Football League before Tedford brought him to Berkeley when he became the head coach in 2002.  A few years later, Parker was introduced to S.Q.U.I.R.E.S, a program at San Quentin State Prison where hard-core inmates meet with troubled youths to show them how they might end up if they make the wrong decisions in life. Parker, who saw lots of crime growing up and had always dreamed of going into law enforcement, was awed by the experience. He came up with the idea of getting Cal's players involved in the program, if nothing else to teach them not to take anything for granted.

"The first thing I thought was we have to get some of our guys over here," Parker said. "I thought our players needed to see it because we're only one bad choice and one bad decision away from coming here. That's true for anybody. I think anybody and everybody should go visit a prison, just to keep you on the straight and narrow. You don't want to be there."

Link to rest of article.

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