How Drake London's competitiveness and family led him to the NFL -

How Drake London’s competitiveness and family led him to the NFL

Drake London was not a typical kid.

He was never interested in having a video gaming system and playing Madden or NBA 2k as many kids were. He grew up with a small playground just at the end of the street he lived on in Moorpark, Calif. His sister Makayla remembers London there most days, often by himself.

“Kids would be like, ‘Where’s Drake?'” said Makayla, five years older than London. “That boy was running routes at the park down the street by himself, and all the other little boys were riding scooters. He was so focused, which was crazy because no one was telling him to do this.”

Cindi and Dwan never pressured London to play sports. They like to say that if London wanted to play chess, they would have supported him in the same way, but London always gravitated to a ball.

Dwan, who played college football at Moorpark Junior College, became somewhat of a personal trainer for London as he would continually ask for workouts. London would run mock 40-yard dashes barefoot, outside the house, while Dwan timed. There were PVC pipes and blankets set up in their home for drills.

“Drake always wanted more,” Cindi said. “I remember him saying, ‘Dad, I want more. I wanna work harder.'”

In middle school, friends remember London keeping a close eye on the time if they were hanging out at the local rec center, ensuring that he was home by 4:00 p.m. when his dad got home from work to work out together.

“Drake was like one of those kids you knew was just different,” said Noah Mattera, who has been friends with London since kindergarten and is now a pitcher at UNLV. “Compared to everybody else, even back then, he was always just different. He’s just always been so competitive.”

London’s family isn’t sure exactly where his competitiveness came from, just that it’s always been there, even before he was fully potty-trained.

It traces back to when London was just under three years old. He and Dwan would play what they called “knee football.” They would move all of the living room furniture, saving the cushions and pillows for lineman and other positions on their teams. Donning uniforms made of Dwan’s old football uniforms and pads, T-shirts, towels, and whatever else they could find, Dwan would play on his knees as London played on his feet.

Even back then, London was physical and took the games seriously.

“We moved the couch one day, and there was a hole in the wall,” Cindi said with a smile. “[Drake] must’ve tackled someone into it.”

London played many different sports growing up, beginning with youth soccer. But eventually, he fell in love with basketball and football over the others and became a standout player in both sports.

It was not until the fourth grade that Dwan realized just how competitive his son was.

London capped off a stellar basketball tournament with 24 points and had 12 rebounds in his final game, but he was noticeably furious afterward. When Dwan and London were walking to the car, London finally admitted what was bothering him: he missed three free throws.

London wanted to correct these issues immediately, so they headed to a nearby court where he shot free throws as Dwan rebounded.

“That’s when I knew I was gonna have more problems turning him down than turning him up,” Dwan said. “It was like, ‘Okay, I got something on my hands.'”

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