By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Playing for five teams – Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons – over nine seasons, 2004-12, offered fullback Lousaka Polite the experience of living a vagabond lifestyle as well as the opportunity to learn about himself.
“I understood from the beginning, being not drafted, that every opportunity that came, I had to make the most of it,” Polite said. “I come from a blue-collar town, Pittsburgh, where that’s how we do things. I refused to give up on myself. I was determined to make sure that I gave myself every opportunity and had no regrets.
“You get cut from a team, you might give yourself a day or so to be down, but you don’t really have much time after that. You have to pick yourself up and be ready to go because you might get a call out of nowhere and have to be ready. So overall, I learned that I was very mentally tough. I’m forever grateful that those values were instilled in me from my parents. That’s helped me the rest of my life.”
Polite enjoyed the most success while with the Dolphins from 2008-10.
“That was my fifth year and the game just slowed down for me,” Polite said. “Also, that was my second go-around with that regime because I played in Dallas for three years under (head coach) Bill Parcells. At that time, he was running the player personnel with the Dolphins. I felt like he believed in me and I definitely wanted to not let him down as well as myself.”
While playing in Miami, Polite decided to begin making a difference off the field and began the Polite Way Foundation.
“The main reason I started it is because first and foremost, it benefits single moms,” said Polite. “It’s a very sensitive subject to me being that at one point in my life, my mom was a single mom. And a lot of my aunts and cousins … I just know so many of them. There’s a need. There’s a huge need for single moms, single parents assistance.
“The ultimate goal is basically to continue to help mothers become more self-sufficient. A lot of them are living check to check and are just barely making ends meet and not able to tap into certain resources and have those things afforded to them. I’d like to try to put them in the best situation possible.
“It’s not always about writing a check. Sometimes it’s about helping them get in front of the right people to help them better themselves. That’s what’s going to create change. Whether it’s to help themselves and generate for themselves, that turnover is what really creates change versus you just enabling someone. There’s a huge difference.
“It’s very fulfilling for me. It’s very humbling because ultimately when you’re blessed, and most of us are, having a home or me in particular, being able to live my dream, I feel like the least you can do is give back and find a way to bless others.”
Much like when he was in the NFL, Polite continues to take advantage of every opportunity. He and several other current and former players are taking part in the University of Miami’s Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes.
“This is a great opportunity for me for the simple fact that in my undergrad (at the University of Pittsburgh), I was a psychology major,” Polite said. “And now being exposed to the business side and learning things that you’re going to need to know for the rest of your life, I’m very glad that I decided to enroll.
“I began to think about my second career probably when I got to Miami (in 2008). When you’re younger, you’re still chasing the dream to play ball. But by the time I got to Miami I was about 26 or 27 and I knew 30 was getting close. I was like, ‘You know, this league, they don’t really think highly of you in your 30s unless you’re just phenomenal.
“I was trying to be a realist about it and felt like I needed to start thinking about things. I wasn’t going to force anything. I wanted to just continue to network and learn from ex-players that had been successful in doing whatever they do. I talked to a few about how their transition was and that was comforting to have a little head start, have some information on how to go about it.
Polite, who will graduate in June, continued. “I’m currently a part-owner of a business, a gym [Pro Performance] in Davie, Florida. I have two partners and we’re doing pretty well. So I’ll look to expand that.
“As life happens, you never want to turn down any opportunities. So as other things come my way, I will definitely consider them. But right now I’m focusing on my gym and would like to work in the front office of an NFL club one day. Hopefully, the Dolphins being that I still live here. I just want to be around the game. I’m not sure if I’m ready to be a coach, per se. “That’s what I meant as far as being around the game; Helping the club that helped me. That’d be the ultimate dream.”