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For many high school students in South Florida football is a way of life. It was no different for Gerald Hearns. He was recruited from Dwyer High school in 2013 and is now a running back for Florida Atlantic University, but his talent goes beyond the football field.
"I always tried to figure out what ways could I make money on a positive note," said Hearns.
Hearns is running a full-fledged business, Get Beefy, out of the trunk of his car. The 20-year-old began by simply selling socks, but just recently expanded into selling other apparel and is now feet ahead of his competitors. He is now inspiring troubled teens from his former neighborhood.
"Loyalty runs deep in my veins," said Hearns. "I do the best that I can to really show people there is a better way out no matter what environment you come from."
The environment Hearns came from, he said, was plagued with violence, crime and poverty.
"Coming from an environment like that, that people call the 'hood' there is very limited amount of people doing things positive," he said. In that surrounding all they see is gun violence, gangs, brotherhood and many don't have father figures in their life."
He grew up near Tamarind and 22nd St. where last year he had a "wakeup call." A man shot through the driver's side window of the truck Gerald was in just moments before he got out. "I'm blessed to say I'm here," said Hearns.
Barley escaping a situation which could have been deadly, he said, made him realize it was his time to move out of his atmosphere.
Hearns said most men in his community see sports as their only escape. "When they don't have any entrepreneurs when they don't have any business owners that made it out of the hood, then football or basketball that's the only thing they look at," he said.
But Gerald is hoping to expand their horizons.
"There are other opportunities out here," said Hearns. "When you get so big headed that, 'oh yeah I'm going to the NFL,' once that adversity hits you have no foundation or platform to build to say this is the next step I can take."
He said that is why he is building his own foundation right now through his business. As he continues to tackle an opponent far greater than the one on the field, Hearns is proving football isn't the only path to victory.
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