UCLA’s Shea Pitts honored for community service

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Editor-in-chief of Pasadena Weekly

Shea Pitts understands the responsibility that comes with being a Bruin.

Agoura Hills reserve linebacker redshirt flexed his brain muscles and was named 2021 Semifinalist of the Year Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year. A devout Christian, Pitts is rooted in the community, lending a hand when needed.

Pitts, who wears number 47 like his former soccer player father Ron, said the sport provides a platform for him to share his love of the community. For this, he was nominated by UCLA for the Wuerffel Trophy, college football’s top prize for community service.

“We use our platform as a UCLA football player to make an impact on the community,” he said. “People say, ‘I want to play football. I want to do this or that. You have to have good grades and a sense of community or none of that is possible.

“If you are not good academically, they lose this opportunity. Sport will then take care of itself. There is more to life than football.

Although his 40s made volunteering difficult, Pitts did his best. He donned masks and gloves to help out at a school event in Inglewood. He also participates in a mentoring program for high school students.

“Football gave me the opportunity to play at a school like UCLA,” he said. “The school is very academic and competitive. I couldn’t have entered UCLA without football. The game has given me and my family so much.

A former UCLA star himself, Ron Pitts is a Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers veteran. He is an incumbent broadcaster of Fox Sports who hosted three nationally broadcast shows – “NFL Hardcore Football”, “NFL Under the Helmet” and “Destroyed in Seconds”.

Besides his father’s support, Pitts looks to his faith for guidance.

“In this world, there are going to be things that are beyond our control,” he said. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through anything too hard.

“I feel that on this Earth it is difficult to go through certain things. You will have to seek a higher power. I myself am a Christian. If I don’t have anyone else to talk to, having a god to talk to is really inspiring.

Thanks to his father and grandfather, football talent is innate to Pitts. Growing up, football was the common denominator around his home. Pitts always wanted to play, even though his mom was worried about injuries. Yet he pursued his dream.

“Football wasn’t really a job in high school,” Pitts said. “Now football has a lot of responsibilities. It’s about balancing priorities and suppressing outside noise and not going out in places you shouldn’t. I keep a good balance between things.

Staying consistent is the key to success on the pitch, he said.

“Everyone around you is the best player in your region,” he said. “You are competing with the players on the team. It’s easy to have a good few days, but being good every day is the challenge.

To follow, Pitts remains in shape all year round, but the pandemic has made things difficult. Between seasons, he takes a week to relax, then goes to the gym. With the forced gym closures due to the pandemic, Pitts has hit fields and tracks for running.

To motivate himself, he listens to hip-hop and reads the scriptures to “keep the mind straight.” It was hard to stay calm when he started college in Oklahoma – a capacity of 88,000 people.

“It was a surreal experience,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘This is the most difficult it is going to be mentally. It’s not going to get any stronger than that.

“After that I wouldn’t say it got any easier, but the crowd doesn’t make me too nervous. I’m just happy to be here.

Norma P. Rex

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