We’ve all seen a feel-good story on social media, filling us with joy and triumph. The sports world is full of these stories, and recently, the story of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi has graced media outlets with another emotional tale of persistence and dedication. Sheehy-Guiseppi gained traction when he scored a touchdown off a punt against the Washington Redskins to cap the score off 30-10. The Brown’s new famed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. even gave his pair of cleats to Sheehy-Guiseppi. But where did this wild story begin?
Sheehy-Guiseppi’s journey started with hoop dreams as he tried out for the basketball team at Mesa Community College. Unfortunately, he did not make the cut. He pivoted to running track, but a car accident ended his season prematurely. After two strikes, Sheehy did not call it quits and decided to try out for the football team at Phoenix College while working as a door-to-door home alarm salesman. The staff did not give him a callback to inform him whether he had made the team, but regardless, Sheehy-Guiseppi decided to show up to the team’s practices, eventually performing well enough to earn a spot on the team. After being named an all-American, Sheehy-Guiseppi did not receive athletic scholarship from Phoenix College and so dropped out. He maxed out his credit card traveling to schools in Phoenix and Florida in search of a team without any luck. Refusing to give up, Sheehy-Guiseppi spent two years training and building NFL connections through different training facilities.
Sheehy-Guiseppi finally broke through when he learned the location of the Browns’ spring training and went to a tryout where Vice President of Player Personnel Alonzo Highsmith would be watching. He managed to convince security that he was supposed to be at the tryout, and that Highsmith personally knew him. His 4.38 second 40-yard dash earned him both Highsmith’s attention and another workout at the Browns training facility in Berea, Ohio.
Sheehy-Guiseppi’s story is one of determination and perseverance. On where he draws his motivation, Sheehy-Guiseppi comments about his mom in an interview for the Cleveland Browns: “Growing up, I didn’t know it at the time, but as I got older I realized how hard she worked for everything she did. That was just a blessing. She didn’t have anybody come help her out. She did it all by herself. We didn’t have no stepdad growing up, nothing like that. It was all her by herself.”
Sheehy-Guiseppi eventually earned a 3-year $1.8 million contract, and will be buried in the depth chart behind fellow wide receivers, Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and Rashard Higgins among others. He will likely be placed on the special team. As students, putting your life and financial security on the line for something you love outside of academics seems admirable, as most of us are on a seemingly linear track to our future pursuits. Sheehy-Guiseppi’s relentlessness is one for the books.