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After an injury that ended his NFL career, USC Dornsife alumnus Thomas Williams raised himself up  to launch a successful new profession as a motivational speaker and author. Photos courtesy of Thomas Williams.

Permission to Dream

October 21, 2014

When Thomas Williams was 12 years old, his mother attended his 6th grade parent-teacher conference. There, Williams’ teacher told her that by the time her son was 16 he would be a gang leader, a drug dealer or dead.…

Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith '11

Most Valuable Trait

April 9, 2014

Tenacious. Physical. Nasty. That’s how Malcolm Smith ’11 describes playing defense. “It’s not something everybody can do,” he said. “There’s definitely a darker spot inside of you…

Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety, made good on a promise to return to USC Dornsife and finish his studies toward a bachelor's degree in history. Photo by Duane Ryder.

Steely Determination

July 30, 2012

When Troy Polamalu left Los Angeles to join the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003, he vowed to return and complete his college education. On May 13, 2011, he traded in his black and gold Steelers helmet and jersey for a black…

Photo by Duane Ryder.

Putting Words into Action

January 31, 2012

When Troy Polamalu left Los Angeles to join the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2003, he vowed to return and complete his college education. On May 13, 2011, he traded in his black and gold Steelers helmet and jersey for a …

Keary Colbert is a graduate assistant coach for the USC Trojans football team and a spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's "Be Great" campaign. Photo credit Carlos Puma.

Pass It Forward

November 10, 2010

Keary Colbert's left forearm bears an "SC" tattoo, his right shirt sleeve, the clasped hands logo of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He is a man who takes pride in his history and his alliances. But for the USC College…

Kenechi Udeze (center) lines up to accept his bachelor's degree during the 2010 USC Student-Athlete Graduation Celebration held May 13 on University Park campus. Photo credit Pamela J. Johnson.

'Quitting is Not an Option'

May 14, 2010

When Kenechi Udeze joined the USC Trojan football team as a redshirt freshman in 2001, he was a 340-pound, fledgling defensive end player. "To be honest with you," he said, "the first day I came here for practice, I passed…

It took linebacker Clay Matthews III three training camp practices to work his way into the Green Bay Packers' starting lineup. The USC College alumnus was the fifth person in his family to play football at USC. Left photo courtesy of Green Bay Packers, Trojan photo credit John Pyle.

Feat of Clay

September 1, 2009

Clay Matthews III has a tough act to follow.His father, grandfather and uncle played in the NFL. Clay Matthews, Jr. was a Pro Bowl linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, while uncle Bruce Matthews, an…

True Colors in the Autumn Years

True Colors in the Autumn Years

July 7, 2009

The cadre of USC alumni who had earned their bachelor's degrees at least 50 years earlier met for the first time the morning of June 11, 1949. Clarence W. Pierce, 1898 alumnus and founder of Los Angeles Pierce College,…

Building the Student in 'Student-Athlete'

Building the Student in 'Student-Athlete'

August 1, 2006

Although exhausted after her graveyard shift, Judy Jefferson was determined to attend the closing ceremonies of the NFL Impact Program at USC. “Sure I’m tired, but how could I miss this?” Jefferson said.…

Young Men, Big Dreams

Young Men, Big Dreams

July 1, 2006

Although standing in front of a chalkboard, former National Football League player Reggie Grant sounded as if posed in front of a scoreboard, issuing a command on a playing field. “To make it into the NFL, you have to…