Cincinnati Bengals kicker Shayne Graham is not your average rags-to-riches story. He doesn’t come from your average family. His parents were divorced (normal enough these days) yet got along well enough that they still ate dinner together.
“It was kind of a weird situation,” he admitted. “My dad just made sure he was always around, so it never really affected us. They made sure my sister and I had everything we needed. They would even go in debt to make sure we had everything we needed for sports.”
It’s the tenacity he learned from his parents that gave him the will to still pursue his dreams of being a kicker in the NFL after he went undrafted out of college and started the beginning of his career getting cut from multiple teams.
Graham had many offers from many different colleges but picked Virginia Tech, where friend and ex-teammate Michael Vick also went to school.
“They were the only school that had the best situation for me. To come in and start in a competitive program as a true freshman, and play with Michael Vick…it was awesome,” he said. “The academic program wasn’t bad, either.”
Graham went to the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent in 2000 and then got cut in training camp.
“I sat out a whole year and worked three to four odd jobs, and still trained full-time. I was a substitute teacher during the day. I would wake up at 5 a.m. to wait for a call about where I would be teaching that day,” he said.
It was those substitute teaching jobs that kept Graham in kicking shape. He would kick at the field of whatever school he was working at that day, and leave from kicking to go work out at Gold’s Gym, where he also worked as a clerk and personal trainer at night.