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Straight Outta Taunton (Trace)

"Everything I've ever felt strongly about, I've done something about." -- Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X​, p. 196

Straight Outta Compton is the number one movie in the country. Well, let me tell you just a tiny piece of my story . . .

For my last two years of high school, I lived in Medford, New Jersey in a residential townhouse development called Taunton Trace. In those years the biggest thing in my life was football.

My family had just moved to Medford from Harrisburg, PA. Showing up at football camp as a junior, even before classes started, I was the new kid on the block. No one knew who I was or what kind of talent I had. ("Started from the bottom now we're here").

I started that year -- my junior year -- as the waterboy on the sideline at our first game against Chester, PA. I wasn't even on the varsity team. Over the first half of the season, though, I gradually worked my way up. In the second game, I suited up for varsity but didn't play. Then, I continued playing well on the junior varsity team and consistently made plays against the first team defense in practice. Put me against talent and my talent will always rise to the occasion.

By the middle of the season, I was coming into the varsity games as a sub. We were playing one of our chief rivals, Cherokee High School, when I was in the game. I ran down the field, outrunning my defender to the end zone, when I realized that my quarterback was under pressure in the backfield; so I cut off my route and ran across the middle of the end zone, waving my right hand to get his attention. He saw me and zipped a pass to me for the touchdown. The week after that game, the guy in front of me on the depth chart -- a guy who was bigger and older than me -- quit the team. And from that point until I graduated at the end of the next year, I was the starting wide receiver at that position.

Now, let me fast forward to the end of my senior year. We'd had an incredible season, with only 1 loss. In the first round of the playoffs we played Toms River North, then ranked #7 in the country by USA Today. In preparing to play them, our coach had designed plays specifically for me. And their best athlete was charged with guarding me. In front of a live crowd of several thousand people, standing-room only, we won the game, and I burned their best player more than once. This is why I still say to this day that stats and credentials, even for lawyers, make no difference to me -- Put me in the courtroom and let's see what happens.

We ended the season by playing the state championship in Giants Stadium, a professional NFL football stadium where multimillion-dollar athletes play and compete. I had a 30-yard kickoff return in that game, played in brutally cold conditions under the bright lights.

That night was the culmination of an experience in which I worked hard, even at times when no one was watching, to become the best player I could be, for myself and for my team. And under the eyes of thousands of spectators, with plays designed specifically for my performance, I performed and I did so well. By the end of the season I made various all-star teams.

The point of my story is that these experiences apply to this day: who can perform, and perform well, under pressure? Knowing that the ball is coming my way, I know I can make the play, even when it's someone else's job to go against me. And it's not only performing under pressure, but actually winning under pressure. These are qualities and experiences that you can't teach and you can't simply write on a resume.

If you're looking for a lawyer, you need to keep this in mind. Do you want someone who can take a hit on one play, then score a touchdown on the next? Or are you okay with a lawyer who merely talks a good game? Do you want someone who knows how to win? Or are you okay with a lawyer who, despite top-notch credentials on paper, can't perform in Court?

Legend has it that one of my teammates, our star running back, flashed the "TT" symbol to the crowd after his first touchdown our senior year, in honor of Taunton Trace. I now have that same pride for the city of Philadelphia. No matter who you are, don't ever forget where you came from. At the same time, always have the honor and integrity to stand for the community you represent. As a lawyer, I'm literally representing the people of Philadelphia and I'm honored to do so. Choose me as your lawyer and let's work together, no matter what kind of pressure or adversity comes our way, towards success. #startedfromthebottom

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