CHICAGO — Jordan Diamond already has the name picked for the foundation he'll start to help Chicago's kids stay off the streets.
"The Diamond Club," said Diamond, a Calumet Heights native and former standout football player at Simeon.
Diamond graduated from Auburn, where he dealt with several injuries and surgeries, with a degree in sociology and minor in business finance. A medical redshirt season has allowed him to play at Miami, where he's taking graduate classes in sports psychology.
After his final college game, he's heading back to Chicago, where for years he's been mentoring kids at Simeon; the elementary school he attended, Joseph Warren; and several other schools. That includes Schmid Elementary, which sent an entire second-grade class to hear Diamond talk while he was at Auburn.
"I just know that I'm blessed and anything I can do to help somebody, whether it's one person or a million people, I just want to do that," Diamond said when asked why he's starting the Diamond Club. "I'm going to build it right in the heart of the city where it's accessible.
"The youth of Chicago need guidance. There's a lack of leadership and a lack of trust that goes on."
Schmid second-grade teacher Quinlan O'Grady said Diamond is the ultimate "Chicago Public School success story." Last year, for a class project, O'Grady had her students film a video featuring fun facts about Auburn. The video went viral, and Auburn officials asked O'Grady and her students to come to campus. That trip included a lengthy speech from Diamond, who said he "knew what they were going through."
"He had the odds stacked against him but through perseverance, commitment and an unwavering faith in himself he was able to transcend his circumstances," O'Grady said. "He is the ideal role model for our scholars at Schmid and he has continued, along with Auburn University, to foster a relationship with and a commitment to the scholars. He is someone I am so proud that they look up to and aspire to be."
Diamond said he's thankful every day to have survived his childhood in inner city Chicago. Both his parents are disabled. Since Diamond was young, his dad, Derrick, has battled severe kidney issues, while his mom, Angela, has had several spinal surgeries. Violence was common in Calumet Heights, Diamond said, and his 20-year-old cousin, Trevon Stiger, was fatally shot in Englewood earlier this year.
"The shootings, they're very emotional for me, and it's very hard to deal with," Diamond said. "That's the main reason I want to start my foundation, to get young men and women off the streets, to show them the light and the hope."
Decided to Attend Miami Of Ohio university! Excited and blessed for this opportunity. Can wait to get down there with the Squad! #RiseUp— CM_76 (@Jordan76simeon) May 26, 2016
Diamond was heavily recruited out of Simeon, but injuries, including a torn labrum, and back surgery hampered his time at Auburn. He was projected to be a backup at Auburn this year and transferred to Miami in part to have more time on the field. He said playing at Miami, where he's been healthy and is on the starting squad, has been "a relief."
"There were a lot of expectations for me when I got to Auburn, and unfortunately I went through a lot of injuries," Diamond said. "I was down for a little bit when I was at Auburn. I was drained from all the surgeries and the rehab, and it was very frustrating. But there wasn't a day I took for granted, and it was an overall good experience there. I always tried to show up ready to work."
He said that will be part of his message when he runs the Diamond Club.
"I'll tell kids to stay positive and keep dreaming the dream, and then put it into action," he said.
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