Focused on providing hope, the Rams hosted 13 youth housed by the Los Angeles County Probation Department for a tour of SoFi Stadium and a panel discussion in the team's locker room. The event was designed to provide mentorship by introducing career pathways and facilitating rehabilitative dialogue for youth preparing to reintegrate into society.
"Hope is a powerful thing," said Johnathan Franklin, Rams Director of Social Justice and Football Development. "When you place your hope into something, it's your guiding force. It's the inspiration and influence to get up and make decisions each day. For these young men and women to get to listen to individuals that have been in their shoes, been released into society, transitioned into careers, and separated themselves from their past lives… it gives them hope that they can be different, that they won't be judged by their past, and that they can create new pathways that they may not have otherwise known existed."
Rams Legend Robert Delpino and LA County Youth Commissioners Ezekiel Nishyama and Savonnah Branch joined the stadium tour and participated in the discussion moderated by Franklin. Delpino had a six-year NFL career and played for the Rams from 1988 to 1992. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist who serves as a district psychotherapist with the Chaffey Joint Union High School District in Ontario, CA.
"I've always wanted to give back to my community since my childhood," said Delpino. "I came from a single-parent family with five sisters and two brothers. As a youth, sometimes there wasn't enough clothing, there wasn't enough food, and the lights were out because we couldn't afford electricity… but there was always someone there, an organization, to assist my family and my mother."
During the panel discussion, the group explored how to maintain hope through adversity, mental toughness, and the importance of education.
"This experience right here opened my eyes. There's just so much more to life," said Branch. "There are so many opportunities and there are so many people who actually want to see you win. And the Rams…just them letting me come to be a part of this…I'm thankful."
This was the second SoFi Stadium tour and locker room discussion the Rams have hosted for youth housed by the LA County Probations Department. In 2021, the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and young adults from LA County Probation engaged in discussions about overcoming adversity and fear, self-reinvention, personal development, and the importance of maintaining hope.
"At the Rams, we never want to turn a blind eye to any community member," said Franklin. "Our programs are about creating access and being a resource to people from all walks of life."
Los Angeles County Probation's mission is to rebuild lives with integrity at the highest standard. The department's Juvenile Hall serves as an institutional setting that temporarily houses youth for primarily two reasons: before their court dates and after their adjudication, pending transitional placement/services. Los Angeles County Probation operates two juvenile halls: Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Los Angeles.
To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit www.therams.com/community.