Last year former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman Warren Sapp took his place among the greats in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like most former NFL players in Canton, Ohio the week of their induction, Sapp let his guard down while talking to reporters before his big weekend got underway. Below is the story I wrote for The Apopka Chief, Sapp’s hometown newspaper during his playing days at Apopka High School in Florida.
There was one piece of advice that stuck with Warren Sapp throughout much of his ascent from the dirt roads of Plymouth and the playing fields in Apopka to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“My grandmother said something to me a long time ago that I’ll never forget,” Sapp said at the onset of his enshrinement speech Saturday in Canton, Ohio. “She said, ‘boy, don’t you ever forget where you come from’.”
The late Rosie Lykes would be proud. Not only because her grandson was immortalized over the weekend among an elite group of 280 professional football players, but because he’s maintained a genuine compassion for those that helped him reach these heights along the way.
Sapp, who starred for Apopka High School before becoming a first round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the University of Miami in 1995, spent nearly 12 minutes recognizing family, friends, former coaches and teammates at the Hall of Fame’s 50th anniversary gathering.
It was a peak behind the rugged exterior of one of the fiercest defensive tackles in the history of the National Football League.