Emily Cassulo

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Video: NFL Player Encourages Starkville Kids to Dream

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – A Starkville sorority is teaming up with the Boys and Girls Club to inspire local kids this Martin Luther King Day.

Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority members say they want to encourage children to dream – the same encouragement that has echoed in the words of Dr. King for 50 years.

“We’ve talked about their dreams, what they aspire to be once they become adults,” said Sherell Drake, AKA Sorority, Inc. “Dream big. No dream is ever too big or too small.”

That’s why they invited one of Mississippi’s very own success stories to come home. Fan favorite and local inspiration Johnthan Banks played football for Mississippi State, and is now a cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I always wanted to play pro football,” Banks said. “I always knew I was going to play. I had a lot of people tell me I wouldn’t, but I’m here and I’m doing pretty good, and I’ve been successful so far.”

And that road to success wasn’t easy.

Banks’ father died when he was just eight years old.

“It was very hard from high school through college,” Banks said. “I mean, me wanting to give up sometimes, but like I said, my team’s behind me. They’re always pushing me to do better and make the best for me and my family, and it happened.”

“We want the kids to focus on doing what they dream to be, not on what someone else so much focuses on, and not to let anyone deter them from what they want to be,” Drake said.

Banks encouraged the kids to never give up, even when it’s a struggle to achieve their goals.

“Always work hard and set your goals really high, and don’t stop until you make it,” he said.