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Curtis Martin officially retired from the NFL in 2007, and during his speech at the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony, he revealed that the didn’t really want to play in the NFL when then-New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells called him during the 1995 draft to tell him the team was drafting him.
But Martin’s pastor at the time told him that maybe football was the path he was being given to make it possible for him to do all of the things he wanted to do for others.
Martin listened, played 11 seasons between the Patriots and New York Jets, and when he finally did step away from the game due in large part to a knee injury, he was able to turn his attention full-time to philanthropy.
This week, he was recognized for the good he’s done for others.
‘Doctor’ Curtis Martin
On Thursday, Martin received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
He was honored for his Job Foundation, which he began early in his NFL career with the initial intention of helping single mothers but has since expanded to include education and housing needs, and a program to send doctors to developing countries to perform needed operations for poor and uninsured individuals.
A Pittsburgh native, Martin’s mother, Rochella Dixon, raised him alone from age 5 on; his addict father physically abused his mother in many ways, from scalding her with hot water to putting lit cigarettes to her skin to punching her in the face.
Once on her own, his mother had to work multiple jobs, and Martin became a latch-key kid at a very young age.
Once Martin began receiving his NFL paychecks in 1995, he began setting aside 12 to 15 percent of each to go toward his foundation; he now puts 20-25 percent of his earnings toward it.
He is the sole financial supporter of the organization.
Latest of many honors
Thursday’s honorary doctorate was just the latest of many honors Martin has received for his off-field works.
In December, the Coalition Against Trafficking Women recognized Martin as part of its 30th anniversary gala. In typical fashion, he told Yahoo Sports’ Kimberley Martin that helping women in dire situations is his responsibility.
“It’s something that’s very unjust, something that’s very unfortunate and unfair. And I think there are a lot of women and people who are suffering from those who take advantage of them and trafficking them and abusing them,” Martin said.
“This is just something I feel more called to do. I appreciate them honoring me, but I really look at it as almost an honoring of these women who have survived and made it through some of the abuses they’ve been through.”
Last October, the Congressional Award Foundation recognized Martin with its Horizon Award.
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