Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profile. Each week, we highlight an individual who embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to community leader, motivational speaker, counselor, youth advocate, mentor, former standout Northwestern Wildcat football player, El Da’ Sheon Nix. El’s football career was cut short by a tragic knee injury. Despite this unfortunate setback, which ended El’s NFL aspirations, he still wanted to help others achieve their goals, especially youth who came from less than fortunate backgrounds. This was much like Mr. Nix’s own personal story. Here he talks about those experiences that shaped him:
“I grew up living in very similar conditions as many of the youth that walk in the door. My whole life I have been an athlete and through my connections through sports I’ve had numerous mentors and just resource outlets that I have taken advantage of to assist me with getting to this point. And there is always that unwritten rule that athletes should give back to their community. My dream was to make it to the NFL or NBA and be able to go back to my community, and give back as much as I could to make it a better place and just give the city and those that reside there hope. I had a career ending knee injury at Northwestern University, but I kept that mindset that I could still give back even though I could not become a professional athlete.”
Mr. Nix has a strong sense of justice, hard work, and helping others. He developed his other passion into a rewarding and challenging career in helping others. His main focus has been working with kids and young adults. Here El discusses the ups and downs of working with young people and helping see their own true potential:
“Working with kids is challenging. You try and try, and sometimes you just can’t get through to them. You have to be patient and get on their level. At one of our boys group meetings, we had two kids who had been suspended from school for fighting. So I showed a photo of my middle school classmates and talked about where each person is today. It was a lesson about making good decisions in life, even when you’re only 12 years old. I’ve gone through the same things that a lot of these kids are going through, and I always tell them, “You don’t have to be an adult to make a bad decision.”
El Da’ Sheon Nix was born and raised in Sandusky, Ohio, and graduated from Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy with a major in human development and psychological services. After college, El started his career as youth development worker at Youth Organization Umbrella (Y.O.U). Since that time, El has gone on to work at the director or executive director level in several local and national organizations throughout the Chicagoland area, including Year Up Chicago, Beyond Sports, Evanston Community Defender Office, Cabrini Connections. He currently serves as the Director of Programs at North Chicago Community Partners. Through it all, Mr. Nix stays committed to youth development and encourages others to give back to their respective communities.
“There is not one person in this world that got to where they are at without the help of others. The motivation to give back should be the thought of continuing the cycle of providing a helping hand to a person or people that need it. And if we can have this mindset and take actions as a result of this mindset it should hopefully lead to more and more people getting the resources they need to be successful as well.
This is the quote that I use that drives me to do the “work” that I do on a daily basis. “If you are not living your life to benefit the lives of others, then you are not truly living.”
EL Da’ Sheon Nix has made quite an impact on the football field, and currently, in the lives of countless young people. I’m humbled to have personally worked with El as a colleague at one time. We wish him continued success in the future. He is the true definition of #BlackBoyJoy. Today, we honor EL Da Sheon Nix as this week’s Evolved Man of the Week.