Lawrence Guy didn't know he was dyslexic until he got to college.
Struggling after his first semester at Arizona State University, the Patriots defensive lineman learned of his diagnosis and did something he wasn't used to doing. He asked for help, got a tutor, and applied himself in a way that built a foundation for success – success in school, football, and in life.
Seeing the difference it has made for him personally, Lawrence opened up about his journey through the rest of college and during his time in the NFL – stressing the importance that education had once he stopped taking it for granted. Friday at Gillette Stadium was only the latest example of that, as he and his family handed out backpacks filled with school supplies to 150 high school students for their annual giveaway.
"I don't like to call it a learning disability, I like to call it a learning challenge because that's what it is -- it is challenging you to do something."
After learning he was dyslexic, the biggest initial hurdle Lawrence had to jump was getting over the stigma of needing help in the first place. As a four-star recruit, he knew he was destined for the league, and didn't see the impact the classroom could have on his on-field performance.
Once he let teachers, tutors and peers pour into him to help him succeed, he watched his grade point average rise from a 2.5 to a 3.5.
"I didn't value education as much as I do now," Lawrence said. "You just do as much as you need to do to get by, but once you understand what it does for you to help you build as a person, I dove into it. But it took those teachers, it took those peers to help me push. It changed my perspective in school, my perspective on life, and it helped me continue to grow. I can tell you right now, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my education. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for those tutors I decided to take in college."
His wife, Andrea, can attest to that.
"These players, they don't just go into work and play football," Andrea told the students. They go in, they study for hours. I can test that my husband spends six hours – eight sometimes – at the facility. A lot of the time it's studying, watching film, and reading the playbook. A lot of hard work is put into the sport, and I think that goes with school and education."
The Lawrence Guy Family Foundation's mission aligns well with that of La Colaborativa, serving Latinx immigrants and providing services, initiatives, and community organizing campaigns to uplift them in society – despite linguistic and cultural barriers.
To Lawrence and Andrea, the backpacks represent the preparation and hope it takes to excel.
"I want to get that first step, and have them not have to look for a notebook or look for pencils, highlighters, markers, or a binder. I can help them out. I want them to be a step ahead of anything – but the biggest thing is hope," Lawrence said.
"It's not about how many backpacks you give out. It's about that one backpack you give out that changes that one kid's life."