In early 2009, a friend of mine, Will Bowen asked me to breakfast. He asked me to consider being on the board of the Pro-Vision organization in the Sunnyside section of Houston. Will said that he had been on the board for a number of years and he thought my NBA background would mesh well with the founder of Pro-Vision, Roynell Young, because he had played a decade or so in the NFL. I knew nothing about Pro-Vision but was intrigued by Will's depiction of Roy and his vision for serving the most underserved children in Houston.
A couple of weeks later, I went out to Pro-Vision to meet with Roynell. I had never served on a board before and I had no idea about the Sunnyside community. The school was located seven miles from my house but was seven million miles from my experiences. On the drive to the campus, the poverty level was overwhelming. Still, I was excited to meet with Roynell as he had played in Super Bowl XV for the Philadelphia Eagles against my favorite childhood team the Oakland Raiders. I wanted to quiz him about what it was like to defend the great Cliff Branch who just happened to be from Sunnyside. Entering Roynell's office, I was struck by the fact that there was very little football memorabilia in his office. It became apparent early in our conversation that his football career was in the rearview mirror and he had no time for anyone or anything that did not directly impact his mission for Pro-Vision and the young people it served. His passion and devotion to elevating these young people through a loving but disciplined environment coupled with a quality education, an emphasis on character development, building up our aquaponic urban farm because Pro-Vision is located in a food desert, and a long-range goal of providing affordable housing, shone thru brightly. From this hour conversation, it was obvious that Roynell had found his calling in life and that he was looking for people to help him raise the much-needed funding to give these young people the opportunities they deserved.
I became a board member in 2010 and proudly say that Pro-Vision gave me direction in channeling my own philanthropy. Roynell is an incredible leader.....smart, passionate, stubborn when necessary, but he also sets high standards that he willingly abides by and demands those on his team do as well. He is the true definition of a servant leader as he has dedicated most of his professional life to helping those who need it the most. His childhood, his own educational path, his NFL experiences, and his singular focus on helping others after leaving the NFL make him a true American hero. I am honored to know Roy. My admiration for him and all he has accomplished is immense and I am excited for you to read his book and maybe just be a little more inspired to help those that need it. Great leaders unite and inspire those around them. Roynell has done that for the Pro-Vision/Sunnyside community. My hope for you after reading Roynell's story is that you emulate his passion and determination and set a course for positive change in your own community.
Forward from Jeff Van Guvdy, Former NBA Coach of the Houston Rockets,
Pro-Vision, Inc. Board Member
Roynell is someone I have known and admired for many years. This book is a must-read, for it is a book of possibility, of hope that uplifts, and encourages perseverance. It is a blueprint for anyone seeking the path to their calling. It is one I absolutely recommend.
Dr. Roderick Paige, Former Secretary of Education under George W. Bush
Having invested 19 years of coaching in the NFL, 4 years as an assistant, and then 15 years as a head coach has provided me with an opportunity to work with many outstanding athletes as well as people. I state this because I believe this experience allows me to add a degree of credibility to the things I'm going to say about Roynell Young! I first met Roynell in the spring of 1980, while evaluating him as a future first-round pick for the Philadelphia Eagles. The evaluation was intense, in that we were very serious about using the first in our pick on him! He more than passed the test. He was a quality first pick in every category within our evaluation process. From that time on, all Roynell has done is reinforce our evaluation of what he was and is all about by moving into the number one most complete package as a former football player and human being I've ever coached. Only one other athlete I've coached ( Pastor Herb Lusk ) has come close to doing what Roynell has done with his Pro-Vision! He has put his heart, soul, and money into proving BLM to him! If there was an NFL Hall of Fame category for providing opportunities and solving serious problems within our African American communities, Roynell would be the first inductee! No one has come close to doing what he has been doing for all these years for no selfish reasons. He just cares! When you read this book, you will recognize where the foundation of his commitment developed. It should be a mandatory read for every rookie coming into the NFL! There are so many athletes in the NFL that could do what Roynell has been doing for years, especially when you consider the money they are making today! Let's hope this book inspires many to follow in his footsteps and motivates them to get involved by doing some of the same things Roynell has been doing for a long time.
Dick Vermeil, Philadelphia Eagles Former Coach
“There are many obstacles on the journey of life Roynell shares with us how to navigate that journey and explains what matters most in life, people. Loving all people no matter what race or religion. Love conquers all.
Leslie Frazier, Defense Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach for the Buffalo Bills
Whatever grace ignited Roynell Young’s spiritual awakening, we must all be grateful for it. His light shines bright enough to illuminate a whole community. His gift is for using darkness suffering and struggle - his own and that of others - to shape character and realize potential. Lucky the people that find themselves in the light of his love and faith.
Roynell Young’s ideas about the necessity of an ecosystem, his recognition of the complexities of disadvantage coupled with his faith and devotion are what make his work effective and this book more than a personal story. More than a savior story. It’s a good guide to how we invest in people and communities - when we really believe in their worth and value.
Angela Blanchard - President Emerita, Baker Ripley, Senior Fellow Watson Institute. Brown University