LAPORTE | A former college football star and record-setting weight lifter turned minister will visit LaPorte to try to steer children onto the right path in life.
Clarence Lee was on the 1993 Florida State University championship football team. While trying out for the Dallas Cowboys, he set the NFL record for bench press and once leg pressed one ton, according to his biography.
He's expected to bend steel bars and perform other acts of brute strength to capture the attention of youth while stressing the importance of a good education and staying away from drugs, gangs and other bad influences.
"LaPorte is just like any other community. It's needed and it's needed desperately," said Gerald Hartnett, a LaPorte resident who is friends with Lee and other former college and pro football players who reach out to youth and adults.
Hartnett, for example, has been to 97 prisons talking to inmates about turning their lives around over the past 10 years.
One of the points Lee emphasizes to his audience is to associate with the right people.
"Show me your friends and I'm going to show you your future," said Hartnett.
Lee, who now resides in Phoenix, Ariz., is a minister and motivational speaker with Solid Rock International, a group he founded after working with the Power Team, a nationwide inner-city organization.
He travels around the country and overseas inspiring young people to reach their potential.
Lee speaks in public and private schools, churches, juvenile detention centers, prisons and other community settings and has done so for over a decade.
Hartnett said he contacted Lee last year about speaking in LaPorte.
"If we can bring somebody in and talk to these kids and get them to understand maybe they're walking down the wrong path, and they're listening to the wrong voices, maybe we can turn a life around," said Hartnett.
Lee on his April 24 visit to LaPorte is scheduled to speak to offenders in drug court, which focuses more on rehabilitating low level users and dealers first before sending them to prison.
He's also scheduled to appear at 7 p.m. at Crossroads Christian Center at 311 Roosevelt St. in an event that is open to the public.
Lee also plans to be at Knox Middle School on the morning of April 25.
"It's just such a positive story that he offers and a positive role model," said LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo, who made curbing drug use and other issues negatively impacting youth a majority priority of her administration.