Caring and Sharing Committee at John Wesley United Church promotes education

— “We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”

— Mary McLeod Bethune

The Sharing and Caring Committee at John Wesley United Methodist Church located at 3202 West North Avenue in Baltimore promotes higher education by awarding students with perfect attendance, averages of B+ or higher in reading, language or mathematics and improved social/emotional behavior.

On Saturday, December 20, 2014, students who qualified for awards received a new bike and other prizes as a reward for their academic success. The church also gave coats, hats and gloves to children in need.

Doris McQuaige Duncan has been spearheading the campaign for well over 30 years following in the footsteps of the legendary Mary McLeod Bethune.

“I am very big on education. This is something we do yearly to help promote the importance of learning. To be a part of this, [the students] have to meet the goal of a B+ or better. We work with the schools in our area, as well as the parents, so we get a report on what children are doing. [They] don’t have to be from our church to participate. This is for the community. We don’t turn any child down.”

The event also featured a magic show, Santa and performances. John Wesley United Methodist Church encourages the community to visit their website: www.jwumc.org to see the many services offered including Community Outreach Feeding, GED classes, and many more activities and events.

Look up Americans, it’s not as bad as you think!

We are one glum country! Trust in the federal government is at historic lows, according to Gallup. More than half of the respondents to an October Rasmussen poll think our best days are behind us. Just a few weeks ago, an NBC/Wall St. Journal poll found that the one thing Americans agree upon whatever their race or circumstances is that the system is stacked against people like them.

Scratch an American, it seems, and you’ll get a litany of complaints about our representative democracy.

I see this defeatism all around me. When I speak to classes of university students, I almost always ask for a show of hands on whether these young people believe the U.S. is in decline or on the rise. Every time, the room is evenly split. That’s a lot of people who are losing faith in our system. So I have just one thing to say: Could we all take a deep breath?

For one thing, we deal with our challenges from a position of strength. We have friendly neighbors to the north and south, oceans to the east and west, and a growing, relatively young population. We possess abundant natural resources, the world’s most capable military force, a nuclear arsenal second to none, and a deterrent power envied by every other country on earth. We face no existential threat from foreign powers. We can choose the role we want to play in the world.

We created the major mechanisms for world stability— the United Nations, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank— and we still help maintain them. We lead the way in pressing for open markets and free trade. We’re doing better economically than any other major industrialized nation, and have put more people back to work since the recovery began than the rest of the industrialized world combined.

Our people possess strengths in abundance. We have a remarkable reservoir of talent both in the workforce and, to judge by the students I encounter every day, preparing to enter it. We’re blessed with a strong entrepreneurial tradition that nurtures inventiveness and creativity, and that draws countless people from abroad eager to make something of their future.

I’m not blind to our shortcomings— if you read this column regularly, you know that— or to the severe challenges we confront but in the face of extraordinary difficulties, we adapt, persevere, and eventually emerge stronger.

After decades of trying, we have begun to wean ourselves from foreign oil. Our response to the Ebola crisis was initially halting and clumsy, but the federal government and the nation’s hospitals reformed their protocols remarkably quickly for a set of complex institutions. It’s taken a long time to put a coalition together to fight the Islamic State, but international coalitions are difficult to create, and by dint of hard work we’re better off now than we were a year ago.

All these things give our society a resilience to keep in mind the next time you see a news story or commentary hyping a pessimistic view of our future. The world around us is in turmoil, under enormous and even volcanic pressures that explode most every morning somewhere, yet we remain an island of stability.

We have a long way to go, there is no doubt about it. However, I’m reminded of a young woman a few years ago who asked me after a bleak speech I’d given laying out the problems of the world, “Is there any hope?” My answer now is the same as it was then: Yes, of course there is.

Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

Sickle Cell Disease petition gets President Obama’s attention

The Baltimore-based Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and those who have been affected by the illness, their family members and friends and others have collected more than 120,000 signatures on a White House petition to bring the disease some much needed attention.

It may also lead to legislation that will provide sorely needed funds and resources that could help combat the dreaded condition.

“The petition is currently under review at the White House and we are hopeful that positive change will be made,” said Kelsey McDowell, the communications specialist at the nonprofit Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA). “Nevertheless, such success is contingent upon raising public awareness and support.”

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that affects red blood cells. Individuals with sickle cell disease have red blood cells that contain mostly hemoglobin S, an abnormal type of hemoglobin, according to information from the SCDAA. Sometimes these red blood cells become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels.

When sickle-shaped cells block small blood vessels, less blood can reach that part of the body. Tissue that does not receive a normal blood flow eventually becomes damaged. This is what causes the complications of sickle cell disease. There is currently no universal cure for sickle cell disease and more than 300,000 children are born with it each year, according to officials.

The petition, which was launched on September 22, 2014, was created by SCDAA President and Chief Operating Officer, Sonja Banks. It requests that President Barack Obama and his administration declare sickle disease a national health priority and that the White House support legislation to establish and expand sickle cell disease programs.

“This goal would not have been met if it weren’t for the dedication of our members as well as strong celebrity endorsement that include: Steve Harvey, Kier “Junior” Spates, Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon, Dondre Whitfield, Nelly, Jackie Long, Khloe Kardashian and Jourdan Dunn,” McDowell said.

The priority of the legislation, known as the Sickle Cell Treatment Reauthorization Act, is to improve quality of life, treatment and prevention for those affected by sickle cell disease, she said.

Among numerous modified benefits, the bill aims to establish full funding for 25 Sickle Cell treatment centers throughout the country and to provide continued support of a National Evaluation Center to collect, coordinate, monitor and distribute data, as well as to define best practice standards.

Common among African-Americans, Latinos and those whose ancestors are from sub-Saharan Africa, regions in the Western Hemisphere, Saudi Arabia, India and Mediterranean countries, sickle cell disease affects an estimated 100,000 Americans who live with the disease while about 3 million people— including one in 12 blacks— are carriers of sickle cell traits.

In Maryland, 40 percent of the population— or about two million individuals— fall within those demographics, according to McDowell.

Even though sickle cell disease-related healthcare costs average an estimated $2 billion annually, it receives a significantly disproportionate amount of funding for research and treatment compared to other blood disorders or comparable diseases.

“We are hopeful that this bill will not only improve the quality of care, but also the quality of life for sickle cell patients,” McDowell said. “As the only national resource for sickle cell disease, the SCDAA is proud of accomplishing the goal of 100,000 signatures, however, the hard work will not cease until change is made for the sickle cell community.”

Giving athletes guidance and a helping hand

— Recently, I had a chance to be a representative of the National Alliance of African-American Athletes (NAAAA) at the Florida State-Georgia Tech ACC Championship football game in Charlotte, North Carolina, featuring last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and championship quarterback, “Famous” Jameis Winston. I was also offered an opportunity to meet Winston and his family. So I took the occasion to enjoy a very interesting and eye-opening evening of football, academics, business and relationships.

Starting with the football game, the Alliance had great seats in the middle section of the stadium, right below the luxury boxes at the 50-yard-line. That made my view crystal clear to watch Winston work his Earvin “Magic” Johnson-like “gift” on the field again, willing his Florida State Seminoles to rally from behind and overcome a very determined Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets team and crowd for a 37-35 win. That’s now 26 straight games that Florida State has yet to taste defeat under Winston’s uncanny leadership.

Once the game reached the fourth quarter, stadium security was less concerned about seat assignments, so I was invited to sit closer to the field and meet the Winston family. In the lower seats off the corner of the end zone, I met a joyously animated father who stood, yelled and joked with the surrounding fans throughout the game, and a calm and observant mother who sat quietly in the cold and watched the game on the giant jumbo screen above the goal post.

I pinched myself and asked, “Is this the real mom and dad of that talented young man out there with the sexual allegations, stolen crab legs, loose cannon mouth, autograph infractions and gigantic football ego, who may or may not go pro next year?”

All of that came to mind while standing beside them. You can’t help it. Jameis Winston has been all over the news since 2013, with everything he says or does. Yet, his parents were as normal as any other parents I’ve been around in youth football, basketball, baseball, track and field or soccer. I’ve been around supportive parents and families ever since I started playing organized football in West Philadelphia nearly 40 years ago, with my own mother loading her car full of excited, cleat-wearing boys for our Saturday morning games.

So I immediately related to them. However, the Alliance related because Jameis Winston had maintained high academic standards throughout high school, and they had formed their non-profit, educational resource to help African-American scholar athletes to maintain their academic standards, while competing on the university level. That’s why we’ve never heard anything negative about Winston’s academics. The star athlete maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school and a reported 3.7 GPA at FSU, joining the ranks of Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle; Duke’s Shane Battier; Ohio State’s Tedd Ginn Jr.; Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy; North Carolina’s Ronald Curry; Washington’s Lorenzo Alexander; and many more who have come through their program.

The search committee for the NAAAA continues to seek talented, self-motivated African-American kids at the high school level to work diligently with the coaches, parents and athletic directors for the best student athlete results.

The Alliance Assistant Director Tyrone Tate explained that their mission is to help athletes and their parents to navigate an increasing tough terrain of university issues in academics, conduct and business. Like it or not, these talented athletes are now worth billions of dollars in annual sports and television-generated revenue.

So at the end of the night, parents and family members lined up in a restricted meeting area near the team busses to safeguard the lifelong investments in their kids with continued encouragement, love and support, while realizing that some of their guys will be worth millions of dollars as professionals in the years to come.

As expected, with his media interview requests after the game, Jameis Winston was the last player out of the locker rooms. I shook the young man’s hand with a brief introduction and couldn’t imagine myself going through the consistent parental monitoring of such a rare and special talent. I would rather my two sons learn how to become men on their own, with my guidance needed only from a distance. But neither of my two boys are Jameis Winston.

As Tyrone Tate explained it, “If you don’t take it upon yourself to protect your kid from the agents, hangers-on, girlfriends and everyone else who try to meet them after the games, you’ll find yourself at the mercy of people waiting to take advantage of them. That’s why we’re here to help assist them through the process with our experience and relationships.”

For more information about the National Alliance of African-American Athletes, visit: www.naaaa.com.

Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction, and a professional journalist. He has published 27 books. To contact Omar Tyree, visit: www.OmarTyree.com

Petition launched to open federal files on Malcolm X

It seems like it just might be a long shot, but one man continues to try and find a way to compel President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and the United States government to publish the un-redacted FBI, CIA and New York Police Department files relating to the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X.

“We have a January 11, [2015], deadline to reach our goal of 100,000 signatures,” said John Altmann, who has started an online petition on the White House webpage, “We the People.”

“So far, just 44 people have signed the petition, including several individuals from Baltimore,” Altmann said.

Malcolm X, a black nationalist and religious leader was assassinated at the age of 39 by who appeared to be rivals in the Nation of Islam as he addressed the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York’s Washington Heights section.

The assassination came just one week after his home had been firebombed.

Reportedly, files held by law enforcement and federal officials may contain the answers to many questions, including who may have ordered the assassination.

“We have had people sign that live everywhere from the state of Georgia all the way to California. I think such a response illustrates that Malcolm, his legacy, and his message transcended all boundaries and touched every corner of America,” Altmann said.

The government has recently published the United States Senate’s report on the CIA’s systematic use of torture against detainees despite the fact that such disclosures could undermine ongoing efforts against international terrorism and it could also invite retribution, Altmann said in arguing for the release of the Malcolm X files.

“What possible justification could the Obama administration offer for its continued failure to publish the files on the assassination of Malcolm X, a crime that was committed half a century ago? We appeal to the president and Attorney General Holder to publish all federal records, un-redacted and unaltered, relating to this vicious crime and to seek the prosecution of any of its surviving perpetrators,” Altmann said.

For more information or to sign Altmann’s petition, visit: www.petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition, and type in “publish-fully-unredacted-and-unaltered-fbi-cia-and-nypd-files-21st-february-1965-assassination/3Jg1C16j.”

Make 2015 the year of you!

As a psychiatrist, I have the honor of being with people through the ups and downs of life’s journey. I bear witness to joy, fear, anger and sorrow, and the ways in which we deal with these emotions. My patients often say to me, “I think what I need is to just stay busy. I need to distract myself.”

Distraction certainly has its role. Sometimes keeping ourselves occupied with meaningful activities like exercise, time with friends, or work, can keep us out of our head. Sometimes distraction involves not so meaningful activities such as alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling or sex as means of disconnection.

But what would it be like to just…be? To be with ourselves just as we are? The most important and enduring relationship we will ever have, is the relationship that we have with ourselves. This relationship is based on our intimate knowing of our physical bodies, minds, spirits, and souls. If we continuously distract ourselves from ourselves, then we lose the gift of cultivating a loving relationship with the person who matters most.

Here are some ways to make 2015 a year of getting to know YOU:

  1. Slow down: For some, this can feel terrifying! We are used to maintaining a rushed pace, often to distract ourselves or for fear of missing out. Play close attention to when you are moving too fast, or are too busy. Say “No” to activities that aren’t necessary or meaningful to you. Make a conscious choice to block out time on your schedule for rest. Create buffers between activities so you are not rushing from one thing to the next.
  2. Discover quiet: The sounds of our world— people talking, music playing, kids asking, technology beeping— can be loud and intrusive. The voices in our heads— our constant commentary— can be deafening. Turn the volume down, or better yet, switch to silent mode, and allow yourself to just be. This is when you can start to become aware of the forces that operate within you. This is when you can feel the beating of your heart, or the sensation of your breath. This is when you can feel how emotions, desires, and aversions come and go like the tide of the ocean waves.
  3. Experiment with meditation: Once you feel comfortable with disconnecting, experiment with how meditation feels. Meditation is a way to observe all of yourself in a compassionate, nonjudgmental way. You might start with a brief sitting practice where you focus on the sensation of breathing for a few minutes. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meditate in a certain way. Don’t make it another project or goal that you can fail at. Meditation is called a practice for a reason. Find your entry point and build from there.
  4. Find self-compassion: Being with yourself won’t be very fun if you are always criticizing yourself. Make a pact to only use kind, loving words with yourself, the way you would with a child or a favorite friend. Practice self-care. Compassion for yourself improves wellbeing and is the foundation from which compassion for others can grow.
  5. Live mindfully: Practice immersing yourself in your experiences, in a curious, non- judgmental manner. There are several ways to experiment with mindfulness in your life. Try using all of your senses to consciously connect to a mundane experience. For example, while washing the dishes, really listen to the sound of the water, feel the slippery soapiness of the dishes, inhale the scent of dish soap. Using our senses to deepen our experience prevents us from ruminating about an argument with our boss or worrying about tomorrow’s crazy schedule. Alternatively, if you find yourself waiting, allow yourself to just wait. Try to put your phone away, and focus on your breath, or the sensory experience of being where you are. This moment is the only moment that truly exists. Mindfulness allows us to truly live that moment, deeply, intentionally.

These tools can allow 2015 to be the year where you finally prioritize YOU, and the relationship that you have with yourself. This is not selfishness! Being conscious allows you to show up for life, fully available. Knowing yourself allows you to open your heart to all that life has to offer, and to those who cross your path. This is not a race to be won or a mountain to be conquered. This is a beautiful practice, one we can start over and over with each new moment that we are blessed with.

Monisha Vasa, M.D. is a board certified General and Addiction Psychiatrist in private practice in Orange County, California. She lives in Orange County with her husband and two beloved children and two English Bulldogs. For more information, visit: www.mindful-healing.com

Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular rings in 2015 at the Inner Harbor

— A new year is almost here! Celebrate the beginning of 2015 with family, friends, live music, fireworks and lights. Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular takes place Wednesday, December 31, 2014 from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Starting at 9 p.m. Baltimore-based band “Under The Covers” will perform a unique blend of high-energy Top 40s covers at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, located at Pratt and Light streets. Following the performance, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and event-goers will count down to the New Year.

At the stroke of midnight, colorful fireworks and lights fill the sky above downtown Baltimore. The annual Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular is presented by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. Additional support is provided by Visit Baltimore, Southwest Vacations, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and The Gallery. WJZ-TV 13 is the media sponsor.

The fireworks and light show are produced by Image Engineering.

Engineering is comprised of a team of artists, videographers, engineers and creative thinkers at its headquarters in Baltimore. Since 1979, they have completed over 500 projects in the field of creative multimedia shows for clients such as Rihanna, Jay Z, America’s Got Talent and multiple professional sports franchises in the NFL, NBA and NHL.

For the full experience, residents and visitors can view the fireworks from along the Inner Harbor promenade. The show can also be seen from the neighborhoods of Federal Hill, Locust Point, Canton, Harbor East and Fell’s Point.

In addition, WJZ-TV 13 will broadcast the celebration at 11:30 p.m. on CBS Baltimore.

Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) Metro Subway, Light Rail and Bus are the best ways to get downtown for the holiday celebration. Metro Subway and Light Rail service is extended for one hour after the event. For information on MTA services and schedules, visit: www.mtamaryland.com.

For more information about Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular, visit: www.promotionandarts.org.

Couple sparks movement to support homeless families

Arnold Harvey, a 58-year old Gaithersburg, Maryland based sanitation worker and his wife, Theresa Harvey, exhibit kindness and generosity year-round. Through God’s Connection Transition (GCT), a nonprofit that they founded in 2007, the couple and several family members touch the lives of those in need. They distribute food and household items through their warehouse located in Gaithersburg. This holiday season, GCT expands their community work to reach vulnerable populations in Anne Arundel County and Baltimore, by providing toys and Christmas dinners.

Around 2006, Arnold, now a 24-year employee of Waste Management Inc., began his morning shift at 2 a.m. working in Silver Spring and around the District line. The father of five noticed men, women and sometimes children sleeping in unexpected places like alleys, doorways, under stairs and behind trash cans. Arnold, an Army veteran who served in the military for eight years, began offering encouraging words. While building friendships, Arnold discovered that the majority of homeless people he encountered experienced hardships, during the first signs of the economic down turn. Harvey and his wife took action.

“One day we said we’re going to start giving out sandwiches. The shelter wouldn’t open until a certain time of night and would be closed until that evening or morning. They were at the mercy of whoever would feed them or until they were able to go back to the shelter. We made it a habit of giving out sandwiches in evenings, several times a week or on weekends. If it was cold on Sunday mornings, before we did anything, we would take coffee oatmeal, coats, blankets, coffee—whatever we had,” Arnold said.

In late 2007, the Harveys sold their stocks, dipped into their 401(k)s and took out loans to buy goods and assist strangers who had fallen on hard times. They organized a food pantry in their garage before moving to a small building. When GCT obtained their 503(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2009, businesses and individuals started noticing their work and mission. An estimated 5,000 families are assisted monthly through GCT and their partners and referral network consisting of 13 churches, shelters, senior homes, pantries and soup kitchens.

Families who need food to tide them over for a few days are often local, although many people seeking help come from various locations.

“We do an interview by appointment with them to see if they’re eligible to come in and shop once a month. They receive up to ten bags of items each time they come in and shop. It’s set up as a grocery store with meats, vegetables when available, diapers, shampoo, lotion, dish soap, baby food…clothing. It’s got everything in it,” Arnold said. “Our daughter, Angela Harvey, works for us. She put her career on hold as a journalist, after graduating from the University of Maryland in 2013, and runs day to day operations as the operations manager. She wants to make sure that the organization is set up for years to come. My son-in-law, Raphael Clement, is the director of operations. We’re so thankful.”

Theresa and Arnold work full-time jobs. Arnold delivers items and organizes GCT’s warehouse on his only day off. Arnold’s compassionate nature that sparked a movement to help others is partially tied to his own upbringing.

“I grew up with a divorced mother of 12 in the inner city of Kansas City, Missouri. We stood in government food lines. We lived in houses that we shouldn’t have, but it was all our mother could afford as a single parent.”

The late George W. Brown married Arnold’s mother, the late Beatrice Brown. George reportedly moved his new family to the suburbs and instilled a work ethic into his stepchildren, several of whom elevated themselves through military service.

“I made a promise to God. ‘If you see us through this, I will do whatever I can to help anybody else,’” Arnold said.

GCT is currently working on obtaining grant funding. To learn more about the nonprofit or to make a donation, visit: www.gctservingpeople.org or by calling 301-355-5144.

Governor-elect, Comptroller volunteer at Paul’s Place in Baltimore

On Monday December 22, 2014, Governor-elect Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot, joined by the Governor-elect’s daughter Jaymi Sterling, the next First Lady Yumi Hogan, and Comptroller Franchot’s wife Anne Maher, volunteered at Paul’s Place in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore City, where they donated clothing and helped serve lunch to local residents.

Founded in 1982, the organization is a unique non-profit offering basic needs services such as hot lunches, an emergency food pantry, housing assistance, a nurse’s clinic, and more, as well as education and job-readiness services, health and wellness programs, and an after school program. “I first visited Paul’s Place during the primary election, and was immediately impressed by the work this organization is doing in the Pigtown community,” Governor-elect Hogan said. “I feel their model is something that could be implemented on a much larger scale throughout the state to foster ‘hope, personal dignity, and growth,’ part of the Paul’s Place motto, to all of our communities in need. I’m very excited that the Comptroller and I are back again today.”

Ravens Pernell McPhee: Right On Time

Pernell McPhee of the Baltimore Ravens picked the perfect season to showcase his versatile pass rushing skills. He is set to hit the free agent market after completing the final year of a four year $2.18 million contract that he signed with the Baltimore Ravens after he was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft. A number of teams will have an interest in acquiring his services.

If there is one thing that has been pretty consistent about the Ravens this season, it’s the pass rush. Elvis Dumervil has already set a franchise record with 17 sacks. Terrell Suggs eclipsed the 100-career sack mark and has 11 sacks this season. McPhee has 5.5 sacks so statistically, he has not had an outstanding season, but anyone who watches closely will see that he is getting to the quarterback. His problem is Dumervil and Suggs get there faster.

Dumervil gave McPhee a glowing endorsement when asked about the versatile pass rusher, he said, “As a pure rusher, he’s probably one of the better ones that I’ve seen. He lines up both outside and inside. He’s probably got a better finesse game than me.”

The Ravens defense has utilized McPhee in various positions. He has lined up as an edge rusher, a nose tackle and even a middle linebacker blitzing the interior gaps. There are very few players who can be effective from such a variety of positions. McPhee is 6’ 3” and 280 pounds, which gives him the size to play on the interior. Despite his large size, he is light on his feet and has an explosive first step, which allows him to be disruptive from the outside.

The athleticism that McPhee exhibits on Sundays, dates back to his days at Pahokee High School in Florida. The football players at Pahokee are known for developing athleticism by chasing rabbits in a field. He was on the same high school team as two other current NFL players, Janoris Jenkins (St. Louis Rams) and Bill Bentley (Detroit Lions). McPhee played only one year of high school football but in that one season he had 19 sacks and 12 forced fumbles as a defensive end. He was also an all-state basketball player at Pahokee.

Pahokee, Florida is known as “The Muck.” Some of the things that he went through when he lived there has made him never want to ever live there again.

“Every day, I wake up and say, ‘No matter what, I’m not going back for good.’ A lot of guys are scared to go back to Pahokee. I go back because it makes me hungry.” McPhee explained.

During the off-season, it’s not unusual to see McPhee in Pahokee. It serves as motivation for him. He used an interesting metaphor when he described how he draws motivation from his homecoming visits.

“[Have] you ever-seen crabs in a bucket? When one tries to climb up, one drags you down. That’s how our city is.” McPhee said. “When I go there, they don’t know what my intention is. I go there to feel that. I go into every game pissed off. The only thing I have to do is think about my little city. I’m pissed off about all the crabs trying to grab me.”

He lived a tough life there. “You can’t go out the door without fighting in Pahokee, a real fight.” McPhee said. “I used to fight every day. I lost some and I won some. You from a project, I’m from another project, we see each other in school and we fight. That’s just how it is.”

McPhee’s success as a pass rusher continued in his second year of organized football when he racked up 19 sacks as a freshman at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. He had 13.5 sacks during his sophomore year before transferring to Mississippi State. McPhee started all 25 games of his career at Mississippi State.

This year is considered to be the best year of his career. The Ravens know that they have a budding star on their hands. There is a chance that he may sign with another team during the off-season. The Ravens will surely do their best to retain one of their best pass rushers after this season.