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Allen's message to kids in foster care: 'Don't let this define you' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
After his parents' divorce, Jonathan Allen was entered into the foster care system at eight years old.
Allen had his brother, Richard, to lean on at the time but realized the tough spot kids are put in, especially when they don't have someone like he did. Allen offered a message of advice to the kids in the same situation he was in nearly 17 years ago on Good Morning Football.
"Try to find somebody you can trust," Allen said. I think that's the hardest thing when you're going through it is to trust people. Most of these kids have been hurt in the past, they don't know who to trust and normally they just shut people out and become angry and resent people.
"Try to find that one person you connect to and use them as an outlet," he said.
Allen and his brother spent 10 months in foster care before their dad was awarded full custody of them in 2004. A judge ruled they were not permitted to return to their mother out of concern for their safety.
As Allen grew up, he became one of the best young defensive line prospects in the country, played for Nick Saban at Alabama, won a national championship and was then a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Washington Football Team.
He looks at his time in foster care as not a defining moment in his life, but rather a building block toward his success on and off the football field.
"Don't let this define you," he said to kids in that difficult situation. "These are definitely tough times and there's really nothing I can say to make it better, but just having that hope to know that things will get better, and don't let this define you. You define yourself through your actions and your character."