Turning abilities into opportunities: UAB football player shares experience with YAIT students

UAB football player Tim Alexander addressed students in the Young Adults in Transition program on Friday, Oct. 23. (Reporter Photo/Graham Brooks)

UAB football player Tim Alexander addressed students in the Young Adults in Transition program on Friday, Oct. 23. (Reporter Photo/Graham Brooks)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

ALABASTER–Shelby County students participating in the Young Adults in Transition program were treated to a special guest on Friday, Oct. 23 as UAB football player and motivational speaker Tim Alexander shared his experience with the group at the Shelby County Instructional Services Center.

YAIT is a group sponsored by the state department to help develop essential life skills in high school students. Students across seven schools were in attendance at the first meeting of the year.

Alexander spoke of how his life was forever changed when he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in 2006. He explained the many challenges he faced and in the face of adversity, he decided to remain positive and pursue greater things in life.

Alexander spoke of his time as a student at Wallace State Community College and how he went from barely being able to read and write to graduating with a double major in criminal justice communication.

Alexander’s message to students was that their abilities can set them up to do whatever they want to accomplish in life, regardless of any disability.

“What you have to understand is that our ability sets us up for an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Alexander. “You know what the good thing about being different is? That’s your excuse to be better than anyone else, because at the end of the day when we walk in a room with our ability, guess who all eyes are on? Us.”

Alexander then told students that after graduating college, he didn’t want to just settle for any kind of job. He wanted to make a difference.

“I understood I had a disability and I got tired of people saying ‘OK, well you have a disability and I’m going to hire you because it will get me a tax cutoff and I’m going to sit you at the door at Walmart so you can greet people,’” said Alexander. “I hated that.”

Alexander said a person’s attitude plays a large role when facing a disability.

“If you ever feel bad on yourself, you got to let that go,” said Alexander. “When people see you, guess what the first thing they’re going to ask you? ‘Tell me what happened.’ When you tell them what’s going on, are you going to feel sorry for yourself or stand up with head high and chest out and say ‘This is what happened and this is what I’m doing?’”

Alexander is still heavily involved with the UAB football program and was one of the main figures who helped spearhead the effort to bring the football program back to campus. His long-term goal is to become a motivational speaker at the highest level, and he is currently working on publishing a book.