Richard Sherman told a high school student with poor grades that he would fund her college tuition if she managed to get on her school's honor roll. So the student, Hershai James, did just that.
One year ago, at a charity dinner in Richmond, Va. to support former Seahawk Michael Robinson’s annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner and Football Camp, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman met a high school junior with middling grades and he challenged her to work her way onto her school’s honor roll in her senior year.
The dinner was a benefit for the Excel to Excellence Foundation, which was founded by Robinson in 2010 to motivate students to perform well academically and provide resources and support for underprivileged children.
Hershai James, then a junior at Varina (Va.) High School, met Sherman at the dinner and started talking to him.
If she made the honor roll as a senior, Sherman told Hershai James, he would personally fund her college tuition.
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“At dinner, when Richard Sherman came to be about the scholarship, I was in shock,” James told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “I believe I said, ‘Really?’ for reassurance. I just felt so blessed to have been given the wonderful opportunity.”
Using Sherman’s promise as motivation, James took up the challenge. This spring, she graduated from Varina High School on the honor roll, with a 3.0 GPA. Remembering Sherman’s promise to her, James reached out to Johnathan Mayo, the executive director of Excel to Excellence’s Team Excel program, and told him about her accomplishment.
Mayo passed the news along to Robinson and Sherman. The Seahawks cornerback said he remembered his promise to James and told Mayo he would gladly honor it.
“It goes back to knowledge is power, and if you have knowledge, you’re going to be as powerful as you ever want to be,” Sherman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Nobody stops anybody from reading and educating themselves. Mike (Robinson) is only trying to empower these kids to be everything they can be, and if we can help them with our presence, with our (autographed) jerseys (for an auction), with our words, we’ll do everything we can.”
James, who’s a member of Team Excel’s first senior class, will begin her college education at Norfolk State University, where she intends to study business.
Sherman, a 2010 graduate of Stanford University, declined to disclose the financial details of his deal with James. However, per Norfolk State’s website, tuition and fees for one semester as an in-state, full-time undergraduate student in the 2016-17 school year totaled $4,369. That works out to $8,738 for one school year, and about $34,952 for four years, at two semesters per year.