Lawrence Guy has never shied away from speaking about his learning difficulties. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD and ADHD when he was 20-years old, Guy is all-too familiar with challenges in the classroom and how they correlate out in the world.
But those diagnoses have never stopped him. For that, Guy was honored with the 2020 2020 Don Rodman Profile in Compassion and Courage award at the S.E.A.L. Foundation annual gala, hosted virtually on Oct. 15.
The S.E.A.L. Foundation works to "open doors for those who learn differently," and the event put a spotlight on dyslexia in particular. President Kerri Peroni said Guy is the perfect role model for so many young students.
"It's truly an honor to receive this. Going through what I've been through in life, this is another testament of overcoming anything that gets thrown at you," Guy said. "Anyone out there that has a hope or has a goal, go out there and try to achieve everything you put your mind to because nobody is going to tell you what you can and can't do. You're the only person that holds your life in your hands."
As a professional football player, student and father, Guy had to learn how to ask for help. It is something that is not always easy to do, but it is necessary for all people to get comfortable with seeking support when you need it.
He encouraged those tuning in to take advantage of resources provided at school or on a college campus and to lean on those around you.
"If you have a learning challenge, if you feel that you're behind on something, don't be afraid to go ask for help," he said. "Don't be afraid to look at your peers and see if they can help you out through these tough times because that's the only way you're going to get through what you're going through in life. Don't be afraid to tell your parents what you're going through."
Though he is comfortable now talking in front of large groups, it wasn't always that way. When he was younger, he struggled with reading in front of classmates, but practicing helps you not only get better, but get more comfortable as well.
"I had trouble reading out loud in front of people because I was embarrassed," Guy said. "I had a stutter and lisp and flipping words, it was just challenging ... If you're having real trouble doing it, I advise you to go talk to your teacher and say I'm not comfortable reading out loud in front of people because of this reason. That doesn't tell you not to do it. It just means you have to work your way up slowly."
In order to succeed, having friends, family and teachers around to support you is crucial, Guy said. Ignore those who don't have your best interest at heart and lean on those who want to see you be your best.
"With support from my teachers, with support from my parents and family, I was able to exceed my goals. I'm not saying everything was cookies and ice cream," Guy said. "There was some ups and downs in there, but I had a main goal to succeed at anything I put my mind to and that's what I did."