NFL linebacker thanks Phoenix teacher for inspiring him to achieve greatness

A linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys is giving back to a former Phoenix teacher who he credits with jump-starting his career.

Margret Bradley has taught hundreds of students over the years. Her mission has always been to make them feel welcome, as well as to teach them.

"You can’t learn unless you feel like you belong," said Bradley.

Bradley says some students have taken to her teaching more so than others, but every so often, a student comes along with a real passion for both learning and listening.

Azur Kamara was one such student.

Kamara, a refugee from Cote d'Ivoire (also known as Ivory Coast) in Africa, never even thought he'd be able to attend college. Now, he is a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys. When he first showed up in Bradley’s 6th grade class at Cartwright Elementary nearly 12 years ago, Kamara spoke French, but not a word of English.

"Took me some time to adjust to culture. Mrs. Bradley helped me a lot with that," said Kamara.

Bradley gifted Kamara a French to English dictionary, along with a soccer ball.

"Coming from Africa, teachers don’t do that type of thing, so being introduced to that on the first day, to this point, I will never forget that moment," said Kamara.

While Kamara eventually traded in soccer for football, he never forgot Mrs. Bradley. That’s why after all these years, he set up this Zoom call to thank her for not only her kindness, but also for believing in him.

"She would always say if there was something I said I could not do, she would say 'don’t say that. I know you can,'" said Kamara. "I am forever grateful she was the first teacher I was sent."

As for Bradley, she will continue to use Kamara as a shining example for other students, to help them realize that when they put their mind to something, anything is possible.

"He’s touched a lot of children’s lives. He’s had such an influence on my life. No student has ever touched my life in the way that he has," said Bradley.