NFL player leaves game to fight fires

Lavelle Hawkins has played in the NFL and Canadian Football League for six seasons, and now wants to return home to help save lives

KAMLOOPS, Alberta — Serving as a firefighter draws people from all walks of life — even professional football players. 

Lavelle Hawkins, 29, British Columbia Lion’s starting wide receiver, will leave the league to become a firefighter. Hawkins left training camp Monday to return home to Stockton, Calif., to begin his training as a firefighter. 

Hawkins earned close to $5.7 million in the NFL playing for the Tennessee Titans before playing for the Lions. Although he is under contract to the Lions, Hawkins has his mind set on the Stockton Fire Department. 

“This is the next step in life. I’ve always kind of been eager to see what was next for me. What’s my next challenge?” Hawkins told the Vancouver Sun

Nine days into training, Hawkins decided he didn’t have the drive to continue playing football. After feeling no “spark” at a fan festival last weekend, Hawkins made up his mind. 

“I felt as if I wasn’t giving 110 percent. That’s not fair to me, that’s not fair to my teammates and that’s not fair to some of the young guys who are working their butts off trying to make this team. I just felt like ... I needed to walk away.”

Lions receivers coach Marcel Bellefeuille wasn’t surprised by the decision, although he admitted the team will have to adjust their game plan.

“I think it’s a courageous decision. You can keep playing sometimes out of habit, but your heart has to be right. You have to really feel like you want to play to play at the level you need,” Bellefeuille said. 

Hawkins said he looks forward to finding a new team within the fire department.

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