Steffanie Rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*It only takes a second to get into trouble. It might take a lifetime – if ever – to get out of it. That’s a truth most understand intrinsically. Still there’s an endless list of people who fall prey to the obvious, because they don’t think it could happen to them.

Take, for example, the movie, Carter High. When I sat down to watch it last Friday night I already knew the storyline: A group of high school football players fresh off a Texas state championship win in 1988 formed a robbery ring in their Dallas neighborhood.

Nobody was shot or physically harmed but, just as any other criminals, greed got the best of them. A one-time robbery (just for spending money and kicks) turned into a second and a third. With full-ride athletic scholarships to some of the best college football programs in the nation, these athletes obviously assumed they were above the law, that is until a judge sentenced them to between 39 and 100 years in prison.

If there’s any good news to this story it’s that all of them – only 17 and 18 years old when they were convicted – survived prison, have been released and are living productive lives. The bad news, beyond their lack of poor judgement, is the trajectory of their lives forever was altered.

It’s one thing to imagine how their lives could have been. It’s another to watch somebody else live the lives they should have had. Jessie Armstead, who played eleven seasons in the NFL, was selected five times to play in the pro-bowl and helped the NY Giants win the NFC Championship in 2000, was on that high school championship team. Armstead could have caved to peer pressure and followed his friends. But he chose not to get involved in the robberies. In the words of poet Robert Frost that has made all the difference.

Parents and teachers lose credibility with children when they try to give counsel on things about which they have little to no knowledge. So when someone who has fallen from grace, lived through it and has the guts to admit his mistakes wants to share his story, there is nobody else better to give advice.

Carter High is a must-see cautionary tale for adolescents and old fools. Even if you have all the talent in the world and the admiration of the masses, one bad decision can change the trajectory of your rising star forever.

Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for questions, comments or speaking inquiries.