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Hometown Champion

Jordan Hicks Shares Stories About His Journey from Lakota to the NFL

Many children dream of growing up to become a professional athlete, but only a handful of the most talented and dedicated are able to see that dream become a reality. Jordan Hicks is one of them. 

A 2010 graduate of Lakota West, Jordan’s career as a National Football League (NFL) linebacker has led him from the Philadelphia Eagles, to the Arizona Cardinals and now to the Minnesota Vikings. We spoke with Jordan to ask about his time at Lakota, life in the NFL and fatherhood.

How did you first discover your love for football?

I actually didn’t even like football early on. I was a big time basketball fan. I thought I was going to play basketball all through college—my dream was to play in the NBA. I enjoyed [football], but it didn’t really come until my sophomore and junior year when I really started getting recruited and saw that I could potentially have a future playing. It was a gradual thing.

This spring you were inducted into the Lakota Athletic Hall of Fame. Congratulations! Tell us about how your time at Lakota West shaped you?

The people that I was around really had a huge influence on me. Not just on the football field, because that obviously was a big part of it, but off the field as well. I’m still really close to my close friend group from high school—we talk all the time. I think Lakota West was a really good place to grow up. It was very diverse, it was very well-rounded. The people there, between the principal and the teachers and the coaches, were stern but wanted to teach you and were adamant about that. I had a lot of people who had a lot of influence, whether they know it or not, on my life and me getting to the point where I’m at. It definitely was a team effort.

When you think back to the 2015 NFL Draft, what did it feel like to be selected by the Philadelphia Eagles and to know you’d get to play in the NFL?

It was an absolute dream come true. I had been dreaming about that moment for such a long time. The funny thing about the Draft as a vet now looking back at that: there’s so much excitement, there’s so much hype, there’s so many emotions involved in that one specific moment. But that moment is literally just the beginning. As an NFL player, and really in any field that you work in, the moment you enter into it is just the beginning and there’s going to be so many trials and so many different things that you face throughout your time. You're going to face a ton of adversity, and it’s surreal looking back at that moment, thinking about how young I was, how young-minded I was, but then also how lucky I was to have that opportunity that not many people get. It makes me proud to know that I made the most of it. 

You’ve fought back from injury quite a few times in your career. Tell us what it takes both physically and mentally to rebound and be able to take the field again after serious injuries?

To me, it’s way harder on you mentally than physically. I’m an NFL player—I’m physical for a living, I work out for a living, I take care of my body for a living. So, bouncing back and having the thought process that, “I’m going to be just fine,” wasn’t the hard part. The moment you get hurt, you kind of get isolated, at least in your own mind you isolate yourself, because you don’t feel like you’re able to help your team. You don’t feel like you're part of it while your team is going out there and playing and winning. You go from doing absolutely everything to completely nothing, and that's the hardest part. Going through that a couple times has been tough. As I look back at the injuries that I’ve had, I think I’ve gotten better and better at handling it mentally, but it’s hard. The saying in the NFL is the injury rate for NFL players is 100%, because there’s no way you can play the sport and not get injured. It’s just part of the game. You learn that and you face that trial. It teaches you things and you continue moving.

A ruptured Achilles kept you from being able to play during the Philadelphia Eagles 2018 Super Bowl win, but you were an instrumental part of the team and continued to help the team throughout the season in many ways. What does it feel like to be a Super Bowl champion?

It’s special. It’s something that people can never take away from you. I’ve actually wrestled with that  personally [thinking], “Man, I wish I would have played in that [game].” But at the end of the day, I was just as instrumental to that team as the next man with influence, playing the games that I did and playing well and getting us to that point. The longer you’re in the NFL, the more you realize how hard it is to get there and how hard it is to achieve that goal.

You recently signed a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings. What are your thoughts as you head to a new city and new team?

It’s my third time in a new city, on a new team, being the new guy. Things have been awesome meeting the new guys and I’m excited. One of the cool things about this profession is you get to experience new things, meet new people and see different parts of the country. You learn a lot about different parts of the world and the country—it’s a cool experience. It will be new experiences and new opportunities and I'm really excited about it.

You married your college sweetheart and have three precious children. How has fatherhood changed you?

How has it not changed me? Fatherhood is one of the hardest but most rewarding things. It has changed me in so many ways—more patience, more gentleness …I could go on and on about the ways parenthood has helped shape me. They’ve taught me a lot as well. It’s special. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of.

Your hometown of West Chester loves rooting for you no matter which jersey you’re wearing. What is it like for you when you come back to West Chester?

Simply put, it’s home. It is familiar. It is comfort. My mom still lives in the same house that I lived in in middle school and high school. I come home and see my memorabilia, see my friends and get to sleep in the same room that I slept in in high school, which is crazy. It’s awesome and I love coming back and showing my family my roots and having them meet the people that influenced me. It’s always special coming back.

  • Jordan with Kelly Justice (mother), Ivana Hicks (wife) and their 3 children. Jenny Walters Photography