PALMDALE – Integrity, hard work, perseverance and trust… These core values propelled DeShawn Shead from humble beginnings in East Palmdale to success as a member of the 2014 Super Bowl winning Seattle Seahawks football team.
After touring the Northrop Grumman facility in Palmdale Thursday, the 25-year-old gave an inspiring speech to students, military personnel, and Northrop Grumman employees on how his core values helped him overcome personal barriers to achieve success.
“The biggest thing is making that choice,” said Shead, a 2007 Highland High School graduate and the first person from Palmdale to win the Super Bowl.
Shead and his four siblings didn’t have much growing up, Shead said. When neighborhood kids were getting into trouble, “I was right there along with them,” Shead admitted. Then somewhere along the way, his integrity kicked in. Shead says he took a step back and made a choice to go in a different direction.
“I only had one option [to get away], and that was to get a scholarship to college… that was the only way out,” Shead said.
So began his hard work. Shead excelled at sports in Highland High School and was a two-time All-Conference defensive back. He was also named the winner of the 2006 National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete award, and holds the school’s pole vault record. Shead also worked to keep his grades up, and graduated high school with a 3.6 grade point average.
The hard work paid off for Shead. He got a scholarship to attend Portland State, where he was a four-year starter in the defensive backfield for the Vikings, registering 211 tackles, 11 interceptions, five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and 29 passes defensed throughout 44 games in his career, while also handling kickoff return duties.
The Seahawks signed Shead as a rookie free agent in April 2012… but it was perseverance that kept him on the team.
“I got in there, I grinded, I worked hard, and I still got cut,” Shead said, adding that he was put on a practice squad. Shead said he refused to quit. Instead, he set new goals for himself and went after them.
“I just stayed with it and stayed with it,” Shead said, “and now I’m standing before you today as Super Bowl champion.”
Equally important to achieving your goals is having someone who trusts and believes in you. For Shead, that person is Highland High School Football Coach Thomas Counts, who has also worked as a Northrop Grumman accountant for more than 20 years.
“He’s one of the reasons why I’m standing here today… one of the reasons why I’m Super Bowl Champion. I want to thank Northrop for allowing him to come into my life,” Shead said.
Shead also congratulated company officials for a recent accomplishment.
Northrop Grumman’s F-35 Integrated Assembly Line was named “Assembly Plant of the Year” in recognition for the facility’s world-class processes to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve quality. Northrop Grumman is the first aerospace and defense company to receive this award.
Before his speech, Shead toured both the F-35 Integrated Assembly Line and the B-2 Bomber program.
Shead’s visit was part of Northrop Grumman’s continuing effort to inspire employees and interns by having local heroes come in to share their experiences, according to Andrew Reynolds, Vice President of Manufacturing Operations and Palmdale Site Manager for Northrop Grumman.
“You can’t forget where you came from,” Shead said, “So to be able to come back and give back any way I can to this community is definitely a big thing for me.”
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