NFL great Tony Boselli has lived on the First Coast for the better part of 21 years raising his five children with his wife Angi, minus a short stint in Houston when he played for the Texans. “When we were living in Houston, and every time we went to go visit friends in Jacksonville we felt like we were going home,” he says. “I am not sure why. Maybe it was because four of our five kids were born here, maybe it is because of our lifelong friends here, or because the Jaguars are here, but something about this community just feels like home to us. We didn’t choose Jacksonville, it kind of chose us.”
Recognizing that life falls into a greater plan is something that resonates deeply with Boselli. A man of faith, after retiring from the NFL he has dedicated his time to supporting the foundation he and his wife, Angi, founded in 1995. The Boselli Foundation is focused on giving underserved children and families in our community the support they need to reach their full potential.
“The northside of Jacksonville is a tough place to grow up for kids and families, but one thing I have learned is that there are absolutely amazing, fabulous people in those communities. Courageous, hardworking and smart, they fight through more on a daily basis than most people have to,” he says.
“As a dad, my goal more than anything is to help my kids become the best that they can be. Give them the tools, and put them on the right path to really fulfill the purpose they have been put on this earth for.”
— Tony Boselli
For Boselli, what drives the foundation is giving children a chance to figure out their essential gift to the world and help them find the path to share it. “We want to help kids dig in there and find the greatness inside of them. To me, there is no greater opportunity to make a difference in this world. I think there is a lot of buried treasure in communities around this country, and in Jacksonville,” he says. “Maybe there is the cure to an incurable disease wrapped up in the mind in one of these kids that is just waiting for someone to help them achieve what God intended for them to do.”
This is the type of support Boselli found on the field with mentors guiding him through the years, and it is the same guidance he provides his own children as well. “As a dad, my goal more than anything is to help my kids become the best that they can be. Give them the tools, and put them on the right path to really fulfill the purpose they have been put on this earth for. My coaches did that for me, and I try to do that with my kids,” he says.
Boselli connecting with fans at the 2016 All Pro Dad event at EverBank Field.
Building character and value are two fundamentals for Boselli with his own children, and the youth he works with through his foundation. “Sometimes as an athlete you can be defined by what you do, which can be scary because sooner or later you can’t do it anymore. So what happens when that is who you have been your whole life? I want my children to understand that they have value as a person, and that my love for them is unconditional,” he says. “Your value is not attached to anything other than the character that is inside you and your integrity.”
For Boselli the lessons learned from the game were not just about championing the individual, they were also about compromise, respect and camaraderie. “You are with a group of guys with different backgrounds, different faiths and different ethnicities. In the melting pot of the locker room looking at each other, you have to think that we are going to work together to achieve the goal that we want to achieve. I think that is powerful, especially today at a time in our culture when everyone is accentuating the differences about people and creating these divides,” he says. “In team sports, you can’t do that.”
Looking to Give Back?
The Boselli Foundation is running a series of summer camps for underserved kids in our community, and they are in need of donations. Here is its wish list for camp supplies.
• heavy duty trash bags
• bottled water
• swim goggles
• gas gift cards
• HP 950XL and HP 951XL ink
• printer paper
• colored printer paper
• construction paper
• poster board
• white cardstock
• scotch tape
• dry erase markers
For more information visit: bosellifoundation.com
All Pro Dad
All Pro Dad is an organization dedicated to helping build relationships between fathers and their children. Athletes from across the country work with the organization. We asked the folks at All Pro Dad to give us their bullet points on the value of sports and youth.
• Respect for authority
• Integrity and honesty
• Winning and losing
• Developing courage
Visit allprodad.com for more information