MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Standing six foot four, Ervin Parker is a big man with big ideas and that's a good thing because today he's hoping to leave a big mark on Horry County youth.
Parker, a Georgetown native and former NFL'er earned the nickname "blue print" by leaving prints on people as a hard-hitting linebacker at South Carolina State. Decades later, Parker is using both professional and life experiences to leave a different kind of print on people.
"Football was a gift, an opportunity to open doors for me," reflected Parker, "but I definitely want to be remembered as the person who tried to help these young men and young ladies set individual goals to complete long term goals."
Parker, who founded the Blueprint Leadership Academy in 2002, teaches students life skills, and it focuses on 10 principles: attitude, respect, and honesty among them.
"One thing these young men and young ladies need to understand at an early part in your life," implored Parker, "you got to make decisions. it's about the people you let into your boundary, the people you associate with, the way you carry yourself, the way you look, that's your makeup."
That's one of several key messages Parker hopes will get through to the teens, one of which is considering Parker's alma mater SC state to continue his education.
"The boys and girls club really helped me out a lot," said Shyquain McCray. "I mean I have been in trouble but they got me out of my struggles and they really helped me become a young man. I got a 3.5 [GPA] just because of this club."
McCray is just one of the many teens and pre-teens who benefit from the club and Chief professional officer, Dione Buonto, says the surrounding community benefits as well.
"In the last year, our teens have done over 900 hours of community service, which I'm extremely proud of," said Buonto.
And for Buonto, she hopes to draw on Parker's past experience in the hopes that it will propel her teen members forward.
"It's going to be really neat to see the lightbulb light bulbr them when he tells them how hard he worked to get to where he had to get to then when he gets there. And I hope the key message is to stay in school because you need school to go play football," said Buonto.