NFL Draft Pick Escaped Richmond Streets Thanks To Grandmother

RICHMOND (CBSSF/AP) — There was little doubt where Kennedy High of Richmond grad Takkarist McKinley’s heart was when he heard his name called during the first round of the NFL Draft.

By his side was a portrait of his late grandmother — Myrtle Collins — and let the entire world know he was there because of her.

To say McKinley has overcome a few obstacles in his life would be an understatement. Collins stepped in when McKinley’s parents vanished from his life. Streets where he grew up are filled with crime, drugs and violence.

But his grandmother kept him from straying. Then in 2016, Collins fell gravely ill. As she lay on her death bed, McKinley made her a promise. On Thursday night that promise came to fruition when the UCLA star was selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

“It means everything,” McKinley said. “I made a promise to her before she passed away to … go Division I and go to NFL. About 30 seconds later she closed her eyes and passed away.”

In an interview with the NFL Network, McKinley’s emotions got the best of him and a reply to a question from Deion Sanders contained several expletives. But it also reached back to those final moments with his grandmother.

“I told her! Before she passed away, I was going to live my dream! I was gonna go D-I! I was gonna get out of Richmond, I was gonna get out of Oakland!,” he said.

McKinley showed some remorse later in his interview with Falcons media. He said Sanders told him “it’s good for me to have that emotion, that fire, but I have to find a way to manage it.”

Added McKinley: “I’ve probably got fined already.”

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