Former Raiders TE Tony Stewart recently received the first-ever John C. Maxwell Leadership Award, "presented for specific accomplishments that are truly extraordinary, widely recognized as such, and of a positive and lasting quality," according to the award's official website.
Stewart was recognized for the work he has done with his non-profit organization, Beyond The Locker, impacting youth throughout the Bay Area. "I'm very humbled and thankful to receive that award, one of almost 3,000 nominees," said Stewart.
Stewart donned the Silver and Black from 2007-09 after six seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was a tight end known for both his blocking and receiving. In his nine-year NFL career, the Penn State alum recorded 76 catches for 623 yards and 26 touchdowns.
While Stewart made an impact on the field, he was well-known for his community work off the field. Since retiring from the league, the native of Germany continued his off-the-field work with Beyond The Locker, while also becoming an NFL Ambassador and transition coach.
"One of my roles with the NFL is NFL Ambassador so I travel the country and I speak to different college programs. I speak to different high school programs and deliver some of the NFL initiatives and platforms," Stewart explained. "But my other role is a transition coach so I work with current and former players in areas of mental health, first aid, domestic violence awareness, conflict resolution, suicide risk evaluation. I also work with rookies at the NFL Rookie Symposium and we give them a crash course on what the NFL is about. It's a great way for me to be connected and just to be able to share my passion and my purpose with the people I spend so much of my time with."
Stewart's main focus, however, is the work his foundation does with youth from Pittsburg to Alameda to East Palo Alto. "We work with youth and athletes," said Stewart. "We empower them with their self-worth and teach life skills through sports. We really want leaders, students, to be anchored in their unique identity so they can be leaders of positive change in their community."
The former tight end wanted to continue his dedication to community service after his playing career came to an end. "It was just something I always did. I had a couple of great mentors and one of them said, 'don't try and reinvent yourself, just look at what you did,' Stewart said. "And what I did was help build my peers, help build communities, involve in the mentoring programs and I just wanted to take it a step further and I created Beyond The Locker. We've been impacting future leaders, communities and just empowering youth to become more than sports or become more than the situations they've grown up in."
His work creating his non-profit in 2010 earned him the first-ever grand prize of the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. "I had a chance to go down to Orlando, Fla. They had an awards ceremony," said Stewart. "My wife and I flew down and there were 1,100 people that were there in the ballroom. We had a big award ceremony and some of the nominees worked for NASA; one of the women was nominated for CNN person of the year. It was just very high-caliber people that are doing great things, small-scale and large-scale, across the country."
Stewart was honored to be recognized for the work he loves to do. "It's just been great just to be able to share who I am. I love to serve. I love connecting with people and just to be able to do it from my own perspective and feel like the tools that I pass on and the things I do pass on, make an impact," said Stewart.
Learn more about Stewart's community endeavors: http://www.beyondthelocker.com/