Reunited and Inspired
It was during the NFL’s 2018 offseason that Louis posted a workout video with Desmond. The two men were “flabbergasted” by the thousands of positive responses. Suddenly, the idea of a Tacoma gym didn’t seem so farfetched after all. “That’s what set the fire,” says Louis. “Des is more of a ‘show me’ type of person. When he saw that response it was like, ‘Wow, we can really do this.’”
Together, they secured a location and opened Onsight253 (the digits are the area code for their beloved Tacoma community). Much like the video that sparked it, the gym quickly took on a life of its own and for many young people became that same ‘home away from home’ Louis and Desmond had once found in the Boys & Girls Club.
For both men the gym wasn’t just about getting people – particularly kids – into good physical shape. They knew that a lot of the kids who were coming to the gym needed help in other areas of their lives as well.
“The goal has always been to have a real impact on our community,” says Louis, “and that includes providing kids with positive role models. The thing is, one day these kids see Des playing in the NFL on TV and then later they can pull up on him in the gym and have a real conversation? Man, you have no idea how much that means to them.”
For Desmond’s part, he wants those kids to see him as more than just an NFL player – to recognize that “sports is temporary, but life is long. These kids need to be realistic. My brothers and I are the 1% who make it. But even the guys who make it don’t last long. Life is long.”
So when a starstruck kid with dreams of playing in the NFL does reach out to him at the gym? “Yeah, I can tell these kids all the things I did and went through to get to college, to the NFL, things like that,” says Desmond. “But what matters is showing them that I apply everything I learned in getting to the NFL to everything else in my life – my business, philanthropy, family, everything. I want them to understand that if they do the same it doesn’t matter what they do – good things will happen.”
Louis, of course, is the living embodiment of that truth by applying those very same traits – hard work, passion, tenacity – to his gym, his community, his family. It was only when he at last let go of the goal of the NFL that the message of his life’s journey became self-evident. Or as his pastor put it, “You’ve been walking your purpose.”
So if there is one thing the wonderfully divergent/convergent journeys of Louis and Desmond teach, is that any goal – whether it’s achieved or not – neither makes nor breaks the person. It is the journey – what we put into it and take back out – that matters. This is the cornerstone lesson they want to bring to kids.
“We’re trying to break the cycle of kids just giving up because they didn’t hit their dream,” says Louis. “They end up getting into trouble, going to jail, because they don’t have any other expectations or role models who show them there’s another way.”