Everyone’s drive is derived from somewhere.
“I just always wanted to be something better. I look around I see death here, somebody strung out here and somebody homeless here and I just always wanted to be better,” said Cleveland native Arvell Nelson.
Nelson is currently in the Arena Football League, playing quarterback for the Cleveland Gladiators.
“My dream has always been to be the best football player I can be. Always dreamed to play in the NFL," Nelson said. "I always dreamed to play for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL for some reason.”
Nelson was a starting quarterback at Glenville High School before he went on to the University of Iowa. His career at Iowa did not last long, after he was dismissed from the team after finding himself in some trouble. He then continued his education at a community college.
"Iowa, big ten. Pretty much you are getting the finer things,” Nelson recalled. “To leave there you feel like you are on top of the world to the lowest of low.”
After community college, he went on to Texas Southern University and now the Arena Football League.
“Being able to go through those experiences just helped me to grow even more. It helped me to step back and figure out what I truly want to do,” he said. “I want to be a professional football player. That’s what I want to do.”
As he has pursued a career in football he developed another passion along the way: fatherhood. His three children fuel this passion.
“I truly didn’t have my father there consistently, so I just wanted to be that guy to always be there for his kids because they need their father,” he said. “And it is just a joy to watch them grow.”
And while he is still in pursuit of his NFL dream, irrespective of whether or not it comes to fruition, he is proud of the obstacles he’s overcome.
“My journey was a little rocky. I never got the NFL shot, But I am still able to do what I love and it’s beautiful, he explained.”
As he reflects on his journey thus far, he recognizes he’s achieved “something better” than he initially craved, while also receiving a chance to give his children more out of life.
“I hope they learn that you can do anything you want to do as long as you put your mind to it and persevere," Nelson said.