Ex-Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson speaks at Hesse graduation

Adrian Peterson, a 2001 Georgia Southern graduate, was the guest speaker Thursday at Hesse K-8’s eighth grade graduation ceremony. (Brittini Ray/Savannah Morning News)

Hesse K-8 School Principal Kimberly Newman told a group of rising high school freshman on Thursday that they will always be faced with challenges — but their past experiences will help them to persevere.

 

“Your experiences here at Hesse, you will be able to face those and make the right decisions,” she said.


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And former Chicago Bears Running Back Adrian Peterson couldn’t agree more.

The 2001 Georgia Southern University graduate spoke about overcoming adversity to a group of about 120 graduating students during the school’s eighth grade awards ceremony.

Peterson was the Chicago Bears’ sixth-round NFL draft pick in 2002. He won the Walter Payton Award in 1999, and he led Georgia Southern to national championships in 1999 and 2000. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

All of which the 37-year-old said he could not have accomplished if he let challenges deter him.

At the age of 4, Peterson was diagnosed with a speech impediment, but he didn’t let his embarrassment keep him from his dreams, he told students.

“My parents put me in speech therapy, and I felt embarrassed when I would get pulled out class,” he said. “Other kids would always ask where I was going… But just because I have a speech impediment doesn’t mean that it gave me a crutch… My parents would make me read the sports page every day, and I later learned that mom and dad know what’s best.”

Peterson encouraged students to always give their best effort.

“If you always keep taking shortcuts, it’s hard to get back on the main line,” he said.

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