NORMAN — Anthony Stafford, former University of Oklahoma running back, is the Head Start program director for Crossroads Youth & Family Services Inc.
For Stafford, the position is more than a job — it’s a chance to give back to a program that had a positive impact on his life.
“I was a Head Start child,” Stafford said. “I can remember my grandfather walking me across the park to a church.”
He didn’t know at the time that it was a Head Start program. Stafford was born in 1966 and began attending Head Start in St. Louis in 1969, when the program was still young.
“It was a very positive memory for me, and I think it helped me in those early years,” he said.
Stafford’s mother had substance abuse issues, and he and two sisters were raised by his grandparents. His grandmother, 94, is very proud of the man he has become. Stafford said Head Start helped him to develop self-esteem.
When Stafford was 18, his mother was murdered in a drug deal gone bad. Coach Barry Switzer was an important influence on his life shortly after that, he said. His grandparents and coaches helped him understand the value of an education and that football wasn’t everything.
Now he’s a proud father of three and has a job he believes changes lives for the better. Stafford said another former OU football player, Terran Manning, also works for Crossroads.
“There are a lot more good guys than there are bad boys in football,” Stafford said.