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Seahawks' Baldwin tells Kentridge students failure can lead to 'sweet success'

Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin tells Kentridge High students about his successes and failures at a Sunday baccalaureate service at the school. - STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter
Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin tells Kentridge High students about his successes and failures at a Sunday baccalaureate service at the school.
— image credit: STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Doug Baldwin walked back and forth across the Kentridge High School Performing Arts Center stage speaking about failure to students and parents at a baccalaureate.

The 25-year-old receiver who helped lead the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl XLVIII title would seem to be one of the least likely people to focus on failure during a keynote address Sunday to Kentridge seniors.

Baldwin emphasized his point with reference to his Twitter account, where he had posted the following message:

"Failure is a beautiful word. It’s also one of the most misunderstood words. Failure was part of the process of getting me where I am today."

In fact, if Baldwin had succeeded at his initial dreams, his life would have taken a much different path.

"I wanted to be a professional basketball player but obviously that didn't work out," the 5-foot-10 Baldwin told the Kentridge gathering. "When I got to college I thought I was going to be an aeronautical engineer, that didn't happen. But I found out my true passion is teaching, so I want to become a high school math teacher when I'm done with football. I found that out on my journey to failing to being an aeronautical engineer."

Baldwin came to Kentridge because a baccalaureate committee wrote the Seahawks in an effort to get a player to speak at the event. Organizers and students were thrilled that player turned out to be Baldwin. Seattle signed Baldwin in 2011 as a free agent from Stanford University. He signed a new three-year contract in May.

Baldwin had 50 catches for 778 yards and five touchdowns last year in the regular season and had a team-high 13 receptions for 202 yards in the postseason.

Despite those accomplishments, Baldwin spent about 19 minutes talking about the path to success rather than his feats. He even appeared to be taken aback when the crowd gave him a standing ovation after his introduction.

"You all really want to stand up?" he said, motioning the audience to sit back down.

Baldwin, who grew up in Gulf Breeze, Florida, delivered a message that students need to stay strong in their goals, even if those goals change.

"It will not be easy," he said. "A lot of you might be going into the work force now or off to college and you are going to have times when you want to quit and give up. But that is the most beautiful part of the life you are going to step into. Do I go on this path or this path? Multiple decisions are going to made in the next few years of your life."

And failure happens.

"You are going to fail over, over and over again," Baldwin said. "That sucks, right? But think about how sweet that success is going to be when you reach it. When you get to that mountaintop, when you finally accomplish something that you worked so hard at that you didn't give up on you didn't give in. You're going to look back and say I did that."

Baldwin told the crowd Bible verses help get him through struggles, including Jeremiah 29:11.

"The Lord declares I have plans for you to prosper you to give you hope," Baldwin said as he quoted the verse. "I have plans for you. Do you realize how powerful that is?"

Baldwin also tried to erase the dumb jock label some people give to athletes.

"Most of the athletes I know are probably some of the brightest, smartest men I've come across," he said.

That list includes Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, who keeps mostly to himself when it comes to the public and the media, but draws praise from teammates.

"A lot of people look at me when I say this but Marshawn Lynch is probably one of the smartest most intelligent people that I have ever met," he said.

"He's just real. He's 100 percent him. He doesn't change for anybody. A lot of people don't like that because he's not politically correct all of the time. But I admire that."

Near the end of Baldwin's talk, he credited his mother for keeping him at Stanford. During his junior year, he thought about dropping out because he had lost playing time in football and classes had become so challenging.

"I almost quit school and football and almost went back home to Florida," he said. "I almost gave up. I talked to my mom every day for four or five months. My mother showed me tough love she told me to 'stop being a punk.' She forced me to stay at Stanford. One of the most powerful decisions she made was to not allow me to come back home.

"That in turn allowed me to be here today. To be a Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII champion."

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