Vick to Philly teens: "I had to change my life"

September 28, 2010 2:42:35 PM PDT
Michael Vick's not letting his redemption on the field get in the way of his mission off the field.

The Eagles starting quarterback is taking lessons he's learned from the school of hard knocks and sharing them at schools across Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, he talked to students at the Imhotep Charter High School in West Oak Lane.

"I'm very impressed with this school. 100% graduation rate - scholars first, athletes second. That's the mindset you have to have," Vick said.

The QB lectured about his time in prison for dog fighting and being forced to leave his hoodlum associates behind.

"I had to change my life. These people who I thought loved me and cared about me really didn't," he said.

The Imhotep School building sits next to a field once used for dog fighting and West Oak Lane is still considered a high risk location for that kind of illegal activity.

In fact, when the students were asked how many had witnessed a dog fight, a number of hands went up in the air.

Vick's anti-dog fighting appearances are sponsored by the Humane Society. He has become their most visible apostle for animal protection, which helped pave his way back to the NFL.

His message to the teens - don't fall into the traps he did.

"He made me stronger - Don't do nothing dumb or anything like that, don't make no mistakes because you'll have to pay for it," said 11th grader Takeem Perry.

"Stay out of trouble and, when people give you a second chance, you have to take it," said 12th grader Aima Corinaldi.

Vick has been in the limelight since he was a high school football star, and says his resurrected fame and fortune will not be his downfall again.

"I choose not to get caught up in everything that's being said. I appreciate it, but I understand you've got to keep doing it and I can't have setbacks," said Vick.

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