It’s not often an athlete is recognized and honored for his life off of the field. And West Virginia felt wide receiver Sam James fit the description as one of the Big 12’s “Champions for Life” players.
The Big 12 is now unveiling this year’s campaign with James and each other school’s individual offering their story. James is billed as crediting his mom for inspiring him to achieve his dreams despite external struggles. His platform for the 7th year of the conferences “Champions for Life” campaign is that he encourages kids to take care of their mental health.
James’ message is a powerful one.
“There’s a stigma, especially around male athletes, that you shouldn’t go get help or open up about certain things that you’re going through. But everybody needs someone to talk to. Everybody’s going through something. You need to be able to open up about those things so you can get the right help, so you don’t get in the dark place where we see some of these athletes are today.
“And so it’s very important for athletes now to go and seek help, especially in the world that we’re living in with social media and stuff like that — you just need somebody to go talk. It’s very important to seek help.”
The redshirt junior appeared in a video package the conference is using to promote this campaign.
“A lot of athletes, they’re so tied into their sport that they forget who they are as a person,” James said while speaking as part of a panel with his peers about where today’s athletes go wrong while managing their on and off the field life.
“Playing this game is going to allow you so many more opportunities than the average person,” said James while recognizing the responsibility that comes with being a high profile athlete.
𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐 𝐁𝐢𝐠 𝟏𝟐 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 🏆
Sam James credits his mom for inspiring him to achieve his dreams despite external struggles. James uses his platform to encourage kids to take care of their mental health. pic.twitter.com/bBgkEqE6E5
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) October 20, 2022
WVU head coach Neal Brown added his thoughts about his wide receiver. He made sure to focus on James the person more so than the football player on his team.
“I’ve watched Sam transition into really becoming a man and somebody that is very confident in his ability to articulate his thoughts and what he wants to say. That’s the thing about coaching. You know, everybody talks about wins and losses, and that matters. That’s what we signed up for. But when you talk about personal growth, and seeing young people grow and be able to go out and achieve great things beyond the football field, Sam James is one of those guys.”