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At 6 feet 4 and 265 pounds, Daunte Culpepper is the largest quarterback in NFL history. He runs a 4.6 second 40 yard dash and can jump 36 inches into the air and can throw the ball 80 yards.

Quarterback isn’t the usual position for a player Daunte’s size. When he was younger and gathering up footballs downfield after a practice, his youth-football coach saw how effortlessly he threw the balls back and tried him as quarterback at the next practice. His size, speed and talent along with his determination and perseverance has made Culpepper one of the all-time great football quarterbacks.

In high school, Daunte excelled in three sports, but unfortunately wasn’t paying much attention to his grades. “I felt I would do just enough to get by”. He says. It was not enough to get the necessary 2.0 average. The college powerhouses noticed his football talent and potential. But when they found out about his poor grade point average, they backed off right away. There are no free rides to college for students who can’t make good grades.

A football coach at the relatively obscure University of Central Florida saw Daunte’s predicament and helped him map out a plan to raise his grades his senior year. Culpepper re-took several classes and worked very hard (for the first time) in every class. That year he earned all A’s and B’s and made the honor roll. Suddenly all the big colleges wanted him again. But Culpepper was committed to the coach at Central Florida who had helped him. He ended up with B average grades in college and on the athletic director’s honor roll.

Drafted from University of Central Florida by the Minnesota Vikings, his coach Dennis Green said Culpepper has “incredible fortitude and guts, and he loves to play the game to win.” In 2003, Duante signed a ten year $102 million dollar with the team, the highest paying contract in team history and one of the highest in NFL history. Culpepper reflects on his astonishing financial rise. He remembers his life in Emma’s home, how his life was filled with love but little else, how when he was little, there was a Christmas with no presents.

Culpepper credits much of his success to his foster mother, Emma Culpepper, who raised him as the last of her 15 foster children. He was born in prison on January 28, 1977 to a teenage mother who was serving time for armed robbery. After her release, Daunte’s bio-mom reclaimed her young son, who was then about 5 years old. The boy pleaded and soon was permitted to return to his beloved foster mom. “She loved me that much to take me back to Emma’”

Daunte speaks about his foster mother: "She's a very, very special lady. Remarkable. Strong. Everything you'd want in a mother. In a parent. I just wish she could have been the difference in even more kids' lives. Her love was just always there. I can never repay her for what she's done for me. There's no dollar amount that I could ever give her that would amount to half of what she's done. She gave me those things that money can't buy. But I can try. I'm going to take care of her the best way I can."

As for his father, Daunte doesn't even know his name. One could easily forgive Culpepper for being wary of a father trying to re-enter his life now, as fame and riches arrive.

"[My biological mom] wants me to meet him, but it's really not a big important thing to me," he said. "I don't really care. I've thought about it sometimes. It never bothered me to the point where I'd sit down and cry about it. I was taught that things that are out of your control, don't worry about them."

"I didn't talk about (his biological mom's) life too much, because it makes him feel bad," Emma said. "And sometimes some of the children might tease Daunte about being a prisoner boy or prisoner baby, something like that."

Even to this day?

"No, not any more, because Daunte would knock them aside the head if they did," she said, laughing a deep, rich laugh. "They don't mess with him."

Daunte Culpepper is the celebrity spokesperson for the African American Adoption Agency in St Paul Minnesota. He is personally committed to finding permanent homes for foster kids of color and has worked to dispel pervasive misconceptions about adopting African American boys by speaking openly about his experience as a foster and an adopted child.

For his play during the 1997 season Daunte was voted the Florida Sports Hall-of-Fame Peoples Choice Award winner as the Male Amateur Athlete of the Year in the state of Florida.

14 Comments
May 1, 2008 By Team FosterClub

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Anonymous (not verified) said:

My husband and I have been foster parents for almost 10 years. We have raised 4 children of our own who are now grown with families of their own. We are adopting our foster son who just turned 3. He was born crack addicted and very premature. He is a beautiful black child that has been a blessing to us. His mother has not been in his life although I have sent her many pictures. I don't judge her because she has had a very hard life and has never had a support system. Our child's bio father tried to visit but he has had many problems and could never maintain stability long enough to claim his son. However, his daddy will be part of his life and visits his child which we encourage. We are in our fifties and never thought we would adopt a child, we simply had empty nest and wanted to help in someway. We are a white couple who happen to adore our little Sun Kissed man. He makes US happy! Personality Plus, Eddie Murphy has competition! My husband the big sports nut loves Duante Culpepper and enjoyed hearing his story. We have fostered 36 kids, some short term and several for 2 years or more. It was so good to hear a story where the foster parent was such a wonderful influence and even better to hear a child that appreciated her labor of love. After reading his story I have become a big fan of a man that shows strength of character! I will point to him to show my son that hard work and determination can make a difference in a life.

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Anonymous (not verified) said:

I'm a foster parent and have been one for several years know. I'm so glad that this article has been printed I will show my foster boys so they can realize that if given them the structure,love and consistencey they need so they two can grow and become someone great.

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Anonymous (not verified) said:

My husband and I just became foster parents. We have two brothers, I wish more people would open their hearts and home
to foster care. It has been a great blessing for my family.
Although it is hard at times, but when having children it just part of it. God Bless

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Anonymous (not verified) said:

i really like this it also reads this thing about daunte culpepper i really really like it u dont even know how much i lyke it