Make no mistake, when Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James hits the football field, he is passionate, motivated and mean when it comes to playing for the Cowboys. But off the field he is passionate not only about football, but also his family, community and the fight against breast cancer.
We caught up with James during an appearance at the Doctor Emmett J. Conrad Leadership program - a program designed for people like James to mentor the up and coming youth in the North Texas community.
"Everybody does something different. We have a lot of mentors, and professionals that are here," said James. "It gives the youth a different perspective, and that is why I'm here. You know, my job is, I'm an athlete but before that, I graduated, I was thinking about going to law school. So it's good to have such a wide range of people to help these guys out."
For James this is a labor of love. He truly believes in giving back to the community. With his foundation called Foundation 56, James is tacking the fight against breast cancer head on. His mother, Etta James, was diagnosed and lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001 when James was a student a Louisiana State University.
"I have a breast cancer awareness foundation. Also I have a youth initiative that's under that umbrella," said James. "But breast cancer; my mom lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001, so I didn't know anything about breast cancer. I was in college and I guess that was pretty much the perfect place for me to be, because I was able to do some research."
"It took me so long to really talk about it. I didn't come out of my shell until I was in my 3rd year in the league," said James. "But I wanted to do something positive. I wanted to help somebody else out. I wanted to, you know, create some awareness so people like myself wouldn't have to go through what I went through."
Foundation 56 was formed in 2007 and is already making a difference in the lives of women, and their families around North Texas.
"We've done free mammograms. Helped save some women's lives," said James. "Due to the economic, times right know, you know it's been tough. It's been tough on health care. So this past October, originally we had 45 people that we wanted to have these free screenings. But it was overwhelming, we ended up doing like 65, and out of those 65 we found 5 abnormalities. So those women have been followed-up at Methodist Hospital and everybody is good."
Now, while the fight against breast cancer is near and dear to his heart, James also believes it's important to be a positive role model for children, teenagers and college students.In fact, each year James goes back to his hometown of West Monroe, LA to host a summer football camp.
"You've got to be some kind of influence, weather you are positive or negative," said James. "You have to show people that there is the difference between a male and a man. You know men have to step up, and it's on us to really make these influences."
James credits his family with shaping him into the person he has become. "My dad was definitely influential in my life and my mom definitely was," said James. "I was fortunate to be raised in a two parent home, had great parents. And so, they talked about education, they talked about not putting all your eggs in one basket, just being diverse and having extracurricular activities,and so all those things shaped me to into the man I am today."
The Cowboys linebacker is also looking forward to another football season wearing that famous star. "We're not letting any outside things, come in and distract us," said James. "We've got to keep the main thing the main thing and that's winning it all."
James is also looking forward to the Hall of Fame game and the induction of Cowboys great Emmett Smith."The thing about the Hall of Fame game is it's great because, you know you've got Emmitt, who is our all time leading rusher, NFL all-time leading rusher," said James. "We grew up watching him. So it's definitely cool. The only thing about it is we have to report to camp early." "So Emmitt you have to give us a heck of a speech man cuz we will be out there early just to see you."
And if he wasn't playing football, James tells us he would have like to have gone back to school to pursue a legal degree and become an attorney. He also just celebrated his first wedding anniversary.