Before the hall of fame career, and under the gold jacket, there’s an echo of a troubled teenager inside Brian Dawkins.
Before the NFL, he was a Raines Viking and played on the same field, just yards away from where three teens were shot, one of them killed in August.
Joerod Adams, 19, died and two others were injured. The suspected shooter, is a 16-year-old boy, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
"You talk about the young man who was murdered. Obviously, he's no longer with us but the young man who actually did the crime, he's lost forever when it comes to the system in my opinion," Dawkins said Monday.
He went back to his alma mater to talk to students about overcoming adversity. The look in the eyes of the students he met is something he knows all too well.
"In my neighborhood, I lost two of my best friends to gunshots,” Dawkins said.
The honesty hit hard with students like Nigel Allen, who is also a Raines football player.
"For [Dawkins] to open up like that just let us know that he's been through some of the worst,” Allen said.
On the football field, Dawkins was known for his intensity and leadership -- two qualities he brought into Raines on Monday.
"Transparency will hopefully reach somebody,” Dawkins said. “It may not reach everybody in here but hopefully, it'll reach a couple of you and you'll begin to think about your life differently."
Much like his playing style, Dawkins’ message, left an impact.
"It really just keeps us focused on how to be great and dream big,” Allen said.
Dawkins also opened up to the students about his struggle with depression. He hopes his story will teach the students that hardships, crime and mental illness don’t have to keep you from fulfilling your dreams.