Winston gives stirring speech to middle school students

Jameis Winston surprised some Alabama middle school students by showing up at an assembly and delivered a remarkable motivational speech.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

By Jason Rowan

Newly drafted Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gave some middle school students in his home state of Alabama quite the thrill when he strolled into the gymnasium and delivered a truly remarkable motivational speech that preached self-confidence, integrity and the importance of a good education.

The quarterback's appearance at Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School in Birmingham, Ala., was coordinated by teacher Tarria Walters, whose brother works with Winston.

[see footage of Winston's speech here]

The quarterback started with some humor, joking that the students should thank him for getting them out of class. When he asked the assembled students who got good grades, it elicited a smattering of chuckles. Winston’s tone then turned a bit more serious.

“Don’t be ashamed about making good grades now,” he said, as transcribed by, while also stressing how good grades, accomplished through studying, can lead to a scholarship.

“I went to school for free, man!” he exclaimed.

Winston later attempted to instill confidence in each individual student.

“Everybody in here is smart,” he insisted. “I don’t want you to tell yourself, ‘Shoot, I’m not smarter than him.’

“As long as you are smart. As long as you abide by the rules, you can do anything that you put your mind to,” he said. “…Tell yourself you are smart. When you tell yourself you’re smart, when you tell yourself something over and over again, it becomes a reality.”

Another component of his speech was delivering separate messages to the male and female students.

“I’m powerful. I am smart. I am confident. I am smart,” Winston told the boys to say to themselves.

“I am beautiful. I am smart. I am strong. I am smart,” he suggested for the girls. “Every lady in here is beautiful. Look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m beautiful.”’

Character and maturity issues obviously have plagued Winston over the past few years, to be sure, but that shouldn’t take away from the positive impact he may have had on a handful of kids at the assembly who took his speech seriously.

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