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Rams Legend & Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson joins panel for sixth installment of RISE with the Rams 

The Rams are collaborating with RISE for the sixth consecutive season to bring a five-part leadership and community building program to local Southern California high school varsity football teams.

RISE, a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relation, kicked off the program in the Rams locker room with a session on understanding identities and perspective taking. Varsity football players from Abraham Lincoln High School and Susan Miller Dorsey Senior High School got to know one another through the interactive session and heard from a star-studded panel on how they can achieve their goals while impacting their communities.

Rams Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson shared that he was amazed by the event. "You always hope you can touch one or two of these young men [and] hopefully some of [what they learned today] sinks in." He added that there is much history about the Black community that is hidden, and this program helps educate and uplift these stories while inspiring the next generation. As he sat in front of the student-athletes he told them, "You will be here one day."

The panel featured the two coaches, who are both alumni of their prospective schools, as well as Johnathan Franklin, a former NFL running back that attended Dorsey High School and now is Director of Social Justice and Football Development for the Rams.

RISE Programs Director, Edward Jones II said, "It's extremely important and impactful to see someone who literally is from your community, [and] see somebody who you can identify with." Speaking on the importance of role models, Jones added how the panelist's accomplishments on and off the field set the blueprint for these student-athletes.

The student-athletes emphasized the importance of the panel consisting of former members of their communities. "It's great to hear from them, it has given me the confidence to know that they came from where I came from, and that they made it, it just shows that I can do it, too," said Dorsey High School senior outside linebacker, Javaun Lewis. He mentioned that the session provided him with guiding tips on how to handle situations in the future. Lewis and Lincoln High School senior running back, Daron Cotton, agreed that the panelist's journeys showed them that everyone has different life experiences, but their various outlooks can create a welcoming environment.

The event also featured a screening of the Rams' recently released short film Kingfish: The Story of Kenny Washington, which resonated with the student-athletes as Washington attended Lincoln High School and as the first Black player signed by the National Football League in the modern era, inspired them as well.

A highlight of the session was Cotton sharing that he wanted to let go of his skin color defining who he is. "I think that was very empowering for a student-athlete to even admit," said Franklin. "I think a man such as Kenny Washington promoted that vulnerability and created that space to have an honest conversation, and for the student athletes to believe that they're more than just what their skin color appears to be... that's empowering. There's some ownership in there, some sobriety." He reflected on the panelist's discussion of the progression of social justice but also acknowledged that there is more work to do.

The Los Angeles Rams are collaborating with RISE for the sixth consecutive season to bring a five-part leadership and community building program to local Southern California high school varsity football teams.

When discussing the partnership with the Rams, Jones II stated, "It's important because it's a professional sports team, Super Bowl Champion that's going back in the community. The Rams are providing a great example of how to create impact and priorities. The Rams priority is the city of Los Angeles, and it shows these athletes that your priority should be your community."  

Former NFL running back, Dorsey High School alumni and head coach, Stafon Johnson, touched on the importance of community impact. "[Dorsey and Lincoln High Schools] can embody the mental fortitude of being who you are, especially [in] the community. The things that we bring to the table every Friday helps the community on a wide spectrum." Lincoln High School alumni and head coach Gabriel Cotero added that this collaboration was a step forward in tying the bridge between cultures and race between the two communities.   

The Rams and RISE are intentional with their partnership. Franklin stated, "Social justice is the core of who we are and to work with organizations such as RISE that focus on addressing social justice issue and social impact is very necessary. This partnership that we have with RISE has been a unique opportunity to accomplish those goals and address the issues that we see throughout the community."  

Jones II added, "When you're able to collaborate work with an organization that is elite in everything they do on and off the field it helps our mission, it helps us create deeper impact around the game of sport."  

Cotton said that being in the same environment as the panelists left him feeling inspired and motivated him to be a better person. This aligned directly with Rams' goals for the program as it aims to cultivate a space to have crucial conversations that break barriers and create unity.  

To learn more about the Rams' community efforts, please visit

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