Although he gets paid to play football, Berkeley High graduate Cameron Fuller’s biggest talent just may be his positive outlook.
The life of a professional football player is one that is often coveted. Young men sit in the stands and dream of the fame and fortune that accompany such an occupation, hoping that, one day, they too can feel that sense of importance and attract such admiration. It will likely never come. According to the NCAA, only 1.7% of college football players play at any professional level.
When one successfully defies those odds, it’s easy to understand their sense of accomplishment. What better example than Berkeley High graduate Cameron Fuller? Despite the doubters and naysayers, failures and forks in the road, Fuller has found himself doing exactly what he always expected he would do: playing professional football.
After graduating from high school, Fuller went on play college ball at Contra Costa College, where he earned a scholarship to New Mexico State University. Fuller started two years for the Aggies as defensive back, and was one of the team’s most consistent secondary players. He was so consistent, in fact, that he earned himself an invite to the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie training camp. He would go on to sign with the 49ers later that year, but was released the following offseason.
After his brief stint with the 49ers, Fuller was determined to get back on a team. He spent the next year training and traveling to various professional workouts, making sure that, when the opportunity presented himself, he would be ready. After a year filled with uncertainty, he finally got the call he was waiting on.
Fuller is now in training camp with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He was signed last month, and said he is excited about this new chapter. Fuller’s success is no fluke. It is the result of hard work, dedication, and his uncanny ability to always see the beauty in life. When asked how he was able to get through it all, he responds with a smile and three simple words: “It’s never bad.”
What has the past year been like for you? It was the first time in a long time you weren’t on a team.
I’ve been playing football since I was in elementary school, so it was rough not playing. But that doesn’t mean this past year hasn’t been good to me. I’ve grown so much as a person. I just turned 25, and I hate to sound cliché, but being Black and from Richmond, to live to see 25 is an accomplishment. So yeah, this past year has just allowed me to do a lot of reflecting and just get to know myself better.
In terms of your football career, was it hard to keep your faith? Did it ever cross your mind that you might not play again?
It never crossed my mind, not once. When I think about, I’ve really been prepping for moments like that my entire life. For example, when I left high school I didn’t have any scholarship offers, so I enrolled at Contra Costa College (CCC), so that I could keep playing there, and hopefully earn a scholarship out of junior college. At the time, CCC had one of the worst football programs in the junior college football ranks. If I would have got caught up in the fact that the odds weren’t in my favor, that would have just taken away time from me actually working towards my goal.
So going through things like that early on in my career, helped prepare me for moments like being released from the 49ers. It taught me not to focus on what might go wrong, not get caught up in my fears, and let me focus on my desires. Not saying that I wasn’t hurt when I was let go — I’m human. I just knew it wasn’t the end for me.
So now you’re headed to Edmonton. How did the opportunity to play in the CFL come about?
One of my junior college coaches told me he knew of a team that was looking for a cornerback with NFL experience. I went out to their rookie mini camp in Florida, and I performed really well out there. The coaches told me they were pleased with my performance and they wanted to sign me.
I know the goal is to always play at the highest level, which in this case is the NFL. But is it a rewarding feeling for a team to recognize your talents? Even if it’s not the NFL?
Of course it is! And what a lot of people don’t know is that the CFL is filled with a lot of former NFL players, so there will be a lot of competition. It won’t be a cakewalk. Football is a passion of mine, I love the game. So any opportunity to get paid to play, I cherish it.
I know you have other interest besides football.
So I started my clothing line, “It’s never bad”, as a tribute to my teammates at New Mexico State. It was my senior year and we were having a really bad season. I wanted to do something to remind them that just because our season isn’t going the way we planned, we should still count our blessings and focus on the positive. That’s when I came up with the idea of getting them shirts that read “It’s never bad.”
Once my teammates started wearing them, other athletes started asking for them, basketball players, volleyball players, and then just regular students even wanted one. It was like a supply-and-demand kind of thing.
Where did you come up with that slogan?
It’s not so much a slogan as a way of life. It’s my way of expressing my gratitude for life. Things might not be good, but it’s never bad. I was just always taught to look for the silver lining, and that outlook has paid off for me.
Is this a perspective you just developed over time, or was this taught to you?
I owe it all to my family. My mother, father, my great grandmother, they all taught me to not get caught up in temporary circumstances. They made it a point to show me that if I give things time, it will eventually work out.
What plans do you have for yourself outside of football and your clothing line?
I’m big on uplifting the youth. I know you hear it all the time, but they really are the future. I think about the way I was raised and how all the things I were taught as a kid helped shape me. Growing up in Richmond I saw a lot of people fall victim to unfortunate circumstances. If I’m blessed with the chance to end that vicious cycle, it’s a task I’m up for.
What steps have you taken towards putting that plan in action?
Prior to signing with the Niners I worked at Nystrom Elementary School in Richmond. I wasn’t there long, but I learned a lot: just seeing how to relate to kids from different backgrounds, and really taking the time to see what they need. I know I can help change the trajectory of kids’ lives and help put them on the path to success the best way I can.
If you can get to someone while they’re young they tend to be more open-minded, as opposed to a teenager who may have already experienced a certain trauma and now they have a negative outlook on life. I wan’t kids to know that it is okay to dream.
If you could give on piece of advice to a kid out there trying to make it in sports or any other field, what would it be?
I would tell them that you have to stay positive and just focus on your desires. I know it gets hard because life will give you every reason as to why you should just quit, but it’s during those moments when you can grow and prepare yourself for success. I’ve had some really low points, but when I shifted my mindset to one of optimism, I was able to see that I was never as low as I thought I was. If you keep working, eventually life will meet you half way.
Visit the Edmonton Eskimos’ website to see the team’s game schedule.
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