Jameis Winston shares MLK’s message: Don’t lose infinite hope

Bucs quarterback, speaking to teenagers in Ybor City, reminds them not to lose sight of their dreams.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston was keynote speaker at CDC of Tampa’s “Suit Up and Show Up” event in Ybor City with a great message for youth. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
Bucs QB Jameis Winston was keynote speaker at CDC of Tampa’s “Suit Up and Show Up” event in Ybor City with a great message for youth. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
Published Jan. 19, 2018

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, only weeks removed from a disappointing 2017 season, had a relevant but larger message for teenagers on Friday morning: Don't let small setbacks keep you from your dreams.

"If you have a phone, if you have a pen and paper, write it down, because I want you to remember this. This quote is going to help you in your journey to leadership," Winston said of Martin Luther King Jr., four days after his birthday was remembered.

"'We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.' That really sticks with me … on this journey, as a human being, we will face adversities. We will face times of disappointment. … Though they may seem huge, they're temporary. You're eventually going to overcome them."

Winston, fresh off his third NFL season, was the keynote speaker at "Suit Up and Show Up," an event in Ybor City sponsored by the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa, outfitting teenagers in attendance with a new suit to remind them of larger life goals.

Winston greeted each teenager for photos after a 20-minute speech, shaking their hands and giving them an autographed football card. He inscribed on each Philippians 4:13 ("I can do all this through him who gives me strength.") and the mantra and name of his foundation: Dream Forever.

Toward that end, he asked them three questions — What are your dreams? Why are they your dreams? And what can you do to achieve your dreams? He recalled his own humble roots, growing up sharing a bed and often even a bathtub with cousins in his grandmother's house in Alabama.

"Sometimes you need things to hit you in the face. Use them to make that choice: 'I don't want that anymore,'" Winston said. "That's temporary. The message is about what's everlasting. As a leader, you have to always have something that inspires you."

Winston is facing an NFL investigation concerning allegations he groped an Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, something he has strongly denied. He is coming off a 2017 season in which the Bucs finished with a 5-11 record as he battled a shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games and limited him in others.

But Friday morning was a reminder that people in the Tampa Bay area still look to Winston as a role model, as someone who can inspire another generation, even in reminding them how they can learn from their failures.

"I'm not going to concern myself with small disappointments," he said. "You're going to fail. But within failure, you have a choice: You can rise up or just sit there and accept it. That's something you have to decide."

For more information on the CDC of Tampa and events like "Suit Up and Show Up," visit