By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider
Some people are of the impression that if one, or both, of your parents have military backgrounds, your childhood memories would be chock-full of stringent rules and void of any carefree childhood musings. Of course, parents don't need military experience to subscribe to parenting styles that favor rules, and require that they be adhered to.
Houston Texans rookie offensive tackle Julién Davenport, whose father, Anthony Davenport, a former sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, opted for a parenting style where expectations were set and responsibility and accountability were encouraged.
“Growing up you know what’s wrong or right,” Davenport said. “Anytime I was in the wrong, he was there to correct it. Majority of the time, I was in the right and I try to be that way throughout my life.”
Born in Camden, New Jersey, and raised in nearby Paulsboro, just outside of Philadelphia, Davenport comes from a long line of family members who served in the United States Armed Forces, and in New Jersey law enforcement.
While Davenport wasn't yet born when his father deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm in the late 80s and early 90s, he is keenly aware of the sacrifices his father made while serving. Shortly after returning home from the Gulf War, the elder Davenport reintegrated into civilian life by joining the Camden police department where he worked until taking early retirement in 2013. Since then, he has worked in security for the Camden school district.
“Pretty much every situation of my life, he has always been there to help me,” Davenport said. “Advising me to stay the course, never give up and work hard in each and everything I do. Whenever I said that I wanted to do something, I knew in my mind I could and I would keep after it.”
Gritty ambition and focus served Davenport well coming from Bucknell, a small school in the Patriot League, where after 45 years he became the second person in the school’s history to be drafted by an NFL team.
At 87.5 inches, Davenport’s wingspan was the longest of any prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft. An imposing figure, 6-foot-7, 318 pounds, Davenport is an intimidating presence on the field. Off the field, his temperament is much more reserved. His demeanor can in part be attributed to his father’s influence.
Davenport recalled his father’s constant encouragement to be his own man.
“He would always say, ‘Be the man you want to be and don't be what anyone else is trying to make you be. It’s your life to live, make sure you live it to the fullest,’” Davenport said.
Davenport earned a degree in political science while at Bucknell, and is considering attending law school post-football.
“I think I might one day like to be a sports agent,” Davenport said. “There were some things about the (NFL Draft) process that got me interested in maybe wanting to explore that (career) further.”
Davenport, who started playing football in the second grade, is living life to the fullest, and is determined to be the best he can be as a professional athlete in the National Football League.
“Playing football is what I wanted to do since I was young kid,” said Davenport who started playing football at the age of eight. “Getting here (to the NFL) has been a complete honor.”
Law school may one day be in the plans but for now, the focus is on football.
“Now I’m straight football,” Davenport said. “My focus is on one thing and that’s to get better and be the player I know I can be.”
Van Adams is an award-winning entrepreneur and small business owner with expertise in sports business and business development. Over the last decade, she has represented a number of iconic sports celebrities and executed marketing campaigns for their personal celebrity and/or business ventures. An advocate for women in business, Van is the creator and producer of Gathering on the Greens, a women’s golf initiative, and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the NYC Metro Chapter of Women in Sports and Events where she oversees programming and strategy. Van is an adjunct professor and often conducts workshops for the small business & sports business communities. She spends her spare time in a test kitchen baking or on a golf course working on her short game.