LADAINIAN TRAMAYNE TOMLINSON
June 23, 1979 -
Sports pundits often list Ladainian Tomlinson, commonly known by the initials L.T., among the top five running backs ever to play in the NFL. As a young kid, L.T. idolized three of those runners, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Emmitt Smith. He mirrored their running styles, intensity, and desire to succeed.
Excelling in sports at Waco’s University High School, L.T. played football, basketball, and baseball. He exhibited tenacity, determination, and a true love for the game. As a young boy he wrote a letter to his mother, Loreane Tomlinson, promising that he would go to college and, if God was willing, play Pro Football. He accomplished both goals!
L.T. was not considered one of the nation’s top running backs coming out of high school. He signed with the up-and-coming Texas Christian University (TCU) program in April 1996, and during his first two years in Fort Worth he shared playing time at running back, gaining little recognition. He finally started during his junior year rushing for an NCAA-leading 1,850 yards. Against UTEP during a November 20, 1999 game, he ran for an NCAA Division I record 406 yards. During his senior year, L.T. led the NCAA for the second time with 2,158 yards, winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back, the Jim Brown Trophy given to the NCAA’s top running back, and being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. L.T. completed his college career with 5,263 rushing yards, then ranking sixth in NCAA Division I history; TCU retired his number 5 jersey during a November 2005 game.
Drafted as the fifth overall pick in 2001 by the San Diego Chargers, L.T. achieved immediate success in the NFL, rushing for over 1,200 yards his rookie year. Two years later he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and a record 100 receptions in the same season. In 2006 he won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award for his performance on the field and the NFL’s 2006 Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award for his charity work. L.T. signed with the New York Jets in 2010, continuing his purusit of a Super Bowl ring. Meanwhile, Tomlinson’s Touching Lives Foundation impacts people’s lives, by inspiring kids for the love of the game the same way that L.T. had been inspired.