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We had the pleasure of meeting Darrius Crump, of Gurnee, Illinois, a running back at Warren Township High School.  Called “one of the top running backs in Lake County this season” by the Daily Herald, Darrius shared his perspectives with us on life on the football field, as a high school student, and as a person who stutters.  Check out our conversation below, and catch up with Darrius on Twitter (@AllStarCrump):

National Stuttering Association: Tell us a little about yourself.  Where do you live, and what are your plans after high school?
Darrius: I’m a junior at Warren Township High School and live in Gurnee, which is a suburb of Chicago.  I’m on the Varsity football team, and my plans after high school is to study Sports Management at a university while playing college football. Then eventually be drafted into the NFL.  From there, I really want to help kids who stutter and possibly be a positive role model.

NSA: How has stuttering impacted your life?
Darrius: When I was little, I was made fun of a lot due to my stuttering, so I was very shy and scared to talk to or around people.  But, as I’ve gotten older I wasn’t as nervous as I was before.  I have a different attitude: if people wanted to make fun of me, it was just to make themselves feel better.  Now I don’t even pay attention to people who laugh at me or who don’t understand me. I ACCEPT my speech impairment therefore I’m not embarrassed about it….. this is who I AM!!

NSA: It sounds like your success on the football field has been getting a lot of attention.  What inspires you to perform at the level we’ve seen this year?
Darrius: I’ve been working out a lot, doing training and my own workouts in my backyard.  This includes a lot of football drills along with running up and down bleachers on my own during the summer.  I knew that when it came to the football season, it would all pay off.  I’m truly blessed with how the season has turned out this year, and I’m looking forward to next year because I’ll be even better.

NSA: Throughout your experiences with stuttering, have you used any coping mechanisms that others might find useful?
Darrius:  I accept that I stutter and I’m comfortable with knowing that. So usually before I talk to an individual or even before an interview with a newspaper reporter, the first thing I would tell them is,  “I stutter.”  I feel by doing this, it helps the conversation feel less uncomfortable for them because they’re already aware of what to possibly expect.

NSA: What advice could you give to others who stutter?
Darrius: Don’t be embarrassed because you stutter, you’re not alone.  You need to honestly accept it and feel comfortable about it.  At first, when I started playing high school football, the kids didn’t understand what I was saying.  But, over time and by me continuing to interact with teammates, the better I felt with knowing they accepted that I stutter and I’m really no different because of my speech impairment.  My advice would be: ”Don’t look at stuttering as a negative and feel bad for yourself because you’re not like others that don’t stutter.  Instead look at stuttering as a positive and you as a person is undeniably unique.”

Thanks, Darrius!