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Rookie Running Back Buck Allen Gives Emotional College Graduation Speech

Posted May 20, 2015

The rookie discussed his difficult upbringing during his graduation from the University of Southern California.

Buck Allen set a family milestone last week.

Less than two weeks after the Ravens drafted him in the fourth round, the rookie running back returned to the University of Southern California to become the first member of his family to graduate from college.

“He is an incredible success story,” USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said. “I met Buck on his very first day at USC when he arrived, and he has come a long, long way.”

Not only did Allen receive his diploma, but he was also selected to speak at USC’s student-athlete graduation.

“If you would have told me four years ago that I would be up here doing this speech, graduating from this amazing place, I would have said you were crazy. Totally crazy,” Allen said during this speech. “And it’s not just because I don’t like giving speeches, but because the distance I traveled the last four years feels like a million miles.”

The path to the podium was far from easy for Allen, who had to overcome significant hardship during his childhood. Allen grew up in Miccosukee, Fla., a small town about 20 miles away from Tallahassee.

 Allen was born to a single mother and was sent to live with his grandparents as a child.  

“No mother ever wants to give her child up,” Allen said. “But it was really the right thing for both of us. Sometimes you just have to know that asking for help is the best thing to do.”

Allen’s older brother was his father figure growing up, but went to prison on attempted murder charges when Allen was just 12 years old.

“Every day I miss him,” Allen said.

During his speech, Allen spoke about the importance of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club during his upbringing. His time with the organization helped provide some direction and introduced him to Mickey and Alice Cullen, who became parental figures in his life.

Allen said Alice was “like my second mom,” but his hardship continued into college when she passed away from breast cancer in June 2013.

“When we said goodbye to each other, I knew that she would still be my guide and my protector. She was never far from me on the field or in the classroom,” Allen said. “I know she’s here today, and I know she’s proud of who I’ve become.”

Allen has already overcome the odds of enduring a difficult childhood to make it to the NFL, and graduating from college last week was as special as any accomplishment on the football field.

“It’s a great feeling to take it to the house on national television,” Allen said. “But getting this degree is pretty amazing.”

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