When the Indianapolis Colts landed quarterback Shaun King, they got a seasoned veteran with big game experience, but they also acquired an individual with high character and a charitable spirit.
King was recently added to the Colts roster to compete with Jim Sorgi for the backup quarterback spot. He led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship game under coach Tony Dungy during the 1999 season, and has a 14-8 record as an NFL starter.
In addition to football, King loves politics and has always been intrigued by the governmental process.
"I've always been interested in politics. I'm one of those guys who likes to know how things work," King said. "Politics is a great way to start learning that."
In fact, King is so interested in politics that he began the Shaun King Foundation in 2003. The goal of the foundation is to gather a number of underprivileged kids from Tampa Bay area Boys and Girls Clubs, and bring them into his program. Then, King takes them on a three-year journey to learn the ins and outs of politics at three levels - state, national and international.
The first year the group, known as "King's Kids," traveled to Tallahassee, Florida to learn about state government. The second year they went to Washington D.C. to learn about national government. The group just returned
from their third trip -- to New York to visit the United Nations and learn about international politics.
"Inner city kids from St. Petersburg will actually get to go and visit the U.N. and see a Broadway play.we're going to take them to a Yankees game; they're going to ride the subway,"
King told ColtPower shortly before the trip. "I'm proud of the foundation; I've watched the young kids grow over the last three years and I think it's really helping them."
The foundation has also become involved with a program called "Global Classrooms," which allows children to participate in a mock U.N. Security Council meeting. The program had previously only been available to actual classrooms, but King's Foundation was able to break through and participate.
The program continues to grow. The first year 18 children went on the trip and that number has increased to 21 in the second year and 26 in the third. To be selected the children must be a member of the Boys and Girls Club, participate in two months of classes, have consistent attendance, stay out of trouble and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.
For this reason, only 26 of the original 49 kids selected were able to stay on board for the New York trip.
"I try to make it as close to the real world as possible - something for something," King said. "The reward is the trip to N.Y., but then they have to earn it and I think that prepares them -- in a sense -- for everything else they're going to encounter."
Without any children of his own, the foundation has provided King with an opportunity to serve as a father figure to children. In the process he is helping youths educate themselves and prepare for a bright future.
"Many times when you are dealing with kids, especially inner city kids, the difference between success and failure is opportunity," King said. "One of my passions has always been trying to provide kids from the community and neighborhood that I came from with the opportunity to pursue their dreams - something tangible that I can put into their lives to help them not only reach, but also set their goals and aspirations a lot higher."
As far as a career in politics, don't expect to see King running for office anytime in the near future.
He plans to continue his NFL career for the next few years at least.
"It would be something I'd love to do later on," he said. "I think I could make a big difference, especially in the areas where I've been rooted in the community."
ColtPower is making a donation to the Shaun King Foundation to help them with
their good work. We encourage you to visit www.shaunking.net to learn more about the Shaun King Foundation or to
make a donation. You'll find a mailing address and phone number at their site by
clicking the "Contact Us" link in the left column.