Tyrann Mathieu: “If I can get through to one kid, then I can get through to 1,000 kids”

12-4 tyrann mathieu BY: ED COLE GLENDALE, Ariz. – What’s happened recently in New Orleans with the tragic murder of former Saints defensive end Will Smith has Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu – who was born and raised in NOLA – up in arms, and ready to do what’s needed to help his city heal from this horrific event. Mathieu’s never been one to hold his tongue on social media when he feels he needs to speak out on things he’s passionate about, and things he holds true to his heart. This whole situation with Smith's murder, and the uprise in violence in his hometown made Mathieu go even stronger on Twitter over the last few days. Mathieu was with Dan Hellie on “NFL Total Access” on NFL Network on Monday, and he had a lot to say about the tweets he put out, about Smith, and what’s going on in New Orleans right now, and his plan to help fix what’s clearly a broken city. Mathieu on his tweets: “I don’t regret any tweet that I said. I’m a very mindful 23-year-old. I try to speak from a place of understanding, and most times, I’m speaking from a place of experience, so I don’t take back anything that I said. Everything that I said was 100% true. The violence in New Orleans is erupting, and it’s continuing to grow at (an) alarming rate. These kids are 10 and 11-years-old, and they’re carrying pistols, (and) they’re doing drugs, and they’re not going to school, and they have no sense of structure, (and) they have no sense of direction. I think the death of Will Smith kind of triggered my emotions into really just letting it all out like, ‘Hey man, it’s not about just that one incident,’ this happens time and time again, and most of the time it gets overlooked, so I really wanted to use my platform to speak out about the violence in New Orleans, and the unfortunate things that happen; and just like the situation with Will Smith, 80% of the time, these things are avoidable. We can avoid these type of situations, but I think the culture is just so bad down there. I think most people think that killing is a cool thing, and I don’t know how you justify taking another man’s life; I can’t justify that.” Mathieu’s initial reaction when he heard Smith had been killed: “Condolences to his (Smith) wife, and his family, (and) his kids. I was absolutely blown away when I heard about it. I actually received a text message that same night that he was gunned down. I was absolutely blown away, I was speechless, and (I) immediately got on my knees, and began to pray for him and his family.” Mathieu on what Smith meant to the city of New Orleans: “For one, he (Smith) gave us something we never had, which was a (Super Bowl) championship. (The) New Orleans (Saints) had never been recognized as a defensive unit. Will Smith, and Jonathan Vilma, and all those guys, they came around, and they really gave us a true sign of what defense was. They definitely did their part in helping bring New Orleans a championship. Not only what he did on the field, but what he did for the unfortunate kids in New Orleans, and in the surrounding areas. He was very active in the community. You would see this guy at parades, (and) you would see out and about, so he was a guy that was very active, and available, and that’s the Will Smith that I’ll always remember.” Mathieu on being afraid to return to New Orleans: “New Orleans is a very small city. Everybody knows everybody, and it’s only so few of us that get a chance to make it out. Even (with) myself; you look back at my history. I’ve bumped my head so many times, and most of those things were personal decisions I made; but it was a culture that created those decisions. I thought everything that I was doing was ok. I thought that smoking marijuana was ok, and I thought that I (could) just get by off pure talent. So we have to redirect, we have to refocus, (and) restructure these kids into thinking that those things aren’t cool anymore. Going to school is cool, being accountable is cool, being responsible is cool. Those things are the cool thing(s) to do. I’m really going to use my platform, and I think this is the perfect time for me. I’m about to get started with my foundation, and we’re going to reach out to unfortunate kids, (and) unfortunate youths, and we’re really going to try to redirect them, and reprogram their mindset(s) into really believing that they can be all that they can be, because they don’t think that that they can accomplish anything. They do not think further than New Orleans, and when I say that, I don’t exaggerate. For me, it’s about getting those kids to believe that there is a life outside of New Orleans, (and) there is a life outside of that culture. New Orleans is a great place, (and) a place of great celebration. You can go there, (and) you can have a great time, but on the other hand, there’s a reality to it. There’s violence. There’s misguided youth. There’s no structure. There’s nothing for these kids to do. There's no programs. There’s nothing for these kids to do after school, but hang on the corner with gangbangers, (and) with drug dealers, and that’s the people that they begin to look up to. For me, I’m going to continue to speak out, I’m going to continue to raise awareness about this, and I think this is the perfect time for me to get started with my foundation, and to reach back out, and to really try my best to redirect as many kids as I can.” Mathieu on how he can go back home and help fix what’s wrong: “I think it’s really about who we surround ourselves with, and like I said, most of these kids, they surround themselves around the wrong people. They grow up, and they form these bad habits. For me, it’s about reaching out to them, (and) getting them to understand that. (It’s also about) formulating a legit plan, a honest plan for these kids, and a strategic one, so that we don’t lose them in the process, because these kids are our future. There’s so much talent in New Orleans. I am not the most talented guy to come out of New Orleans. There’s guys that are more talented than me that just gave up on themselves, so if I can lend a helping hand, and get those guys to believe in themselves, and get those guys to see the bigger picture, that going to school is the right thing, getting good grades is the right thing, putting down the drugs, and really focusing on yourself, and your family, and those people that really care about you (is the right thing). If I can get through to one kid, then I can get through to 1,000 kids. For me, that’s my plan, and I’m going to go forward with it, I’m going to be strong with it, and I’m going to be very courageous with it.”