Senior Justice Powers breaks through on the football field

James Salazar

Staff Writer

In the desks, he is almost invisible, but when the final school bell rings and it’s time for football practice, he comes alive. Before football, he was on the fast track to follow the rest of his family’s footsteps. He was constantly getting suspended from school, failing all of his classes, and was quickly falling into a very dark place. But then, a game saved his life.

Senior varsity football running back and safety, Justice Powers grew up in a tough situation. He never had the support system that many teenagers have at this stage in their lives. He attributes many of his early life struggles to problems he encountered in his own household.

Justice Powers Pic
Justice Powers: American’s Justice Powers (33) runs back a kickoff while attempting to elude Mission defenders. Powers attributed his life turn around to finding the game of football. “When I found football, it changed my life completely,” Powers said. “I understood life in a different way and I knew I wanted to be something better than what I was becoming.”

“Growing up, I was surrounded by my family who was addicted to drugs and didn’t even graduate high school,” Powers said. “My two older brothers are both drug addicts who are in and out of jail and my younger sister is in rehab for drugs. My mom also does drugs and she hasn’t been employed since I was in kindergarten. She’s bipolar, so it was really hard growing up with her always mad and yelling for no reason and taking out everything on us.”

Football, however, was not even Powers’ intended sport. Powers, who now lives with his cousin, only chose the gridiron because he wanted to get what little support he could from his family.

“I wanted to play baseball, but [my brother Ramon] said he would only watch me play football,” Powers said. “That is why I ended up playing football, and I’m glad I picked it.”

Little did Powers know, choosing football over baseball would be one of the biggest turning points in his life thus far; it taught him lessons he never learned before. His family failed to change his life path. School’s disciplinary threats fell on deaf ears. But football finally broke through to Powers.

“[Football] made me realize who I wanted to be and what I wanted to accomplish in life and how much I didn’t want to be like my family,” Powers said. “It showed me what family is about and how important it is to have each others’ back and be able to rely on one another.”

Powers’ change in direction in life and intense passion for the game has not gone unnoticed by his teammates on American’s varsity football team.

“As a person, he’s really matured and become one of the more outspoken leaders of our team,” junior quarterback Junior Diala said. “On the field, Justice is a completely different person. He’s so dialed in; there’s not a person you can put in front of him that he won’t try his best to beat. He’s a hard hitter and very passionate about his performance.”

One player blocking for Powers during the games also witnessed his almost instinctive personality switch when he walks onto the football field.

“He is a great guy; he’s humble and [a] cool person to be around [when off the field],” senior offensive lineman Christian Torio said. “But on the field, when it comes down to business, he is serious and ready to demolish the other team.”

And now, having done away with his previous streak of bad behavior, Justice is on track to become the first in his family to graduate high school with the rest of his senior class in June 2015. Had he not found the game that changed his life, things may not be going as swimmingly for Powers.

“Without football I would have ended up just like the rest of my family, doing drugs and dropping out of high school,” Powers said.

Powers, who hopes to attend college and play collegiately while pursuing a major in sports medicine, does not know what the future holds for him, but he does know one thing for certain.

“Football saved my life like no one else could,” Powers said.

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