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Chris Baker Wants To Leave Mark On Community

Posted Nov 7, 2014

Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker is well known for his “Swaggy” persona, but says a major maturation process in college has led him to a life of wanting to help others.

Chris Baker is well known by Redskins fans by his “Swaggy” persona, in which the 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive lineman isn’t shy about showing off his dance moves for anybody willing to take a peek.

But had No. 92 not gone through a major maturation process during his college career, Redskins fans might never have known about the numerous talents that Baker brings on the field, and the passion he has for children off of it.

Baker started his college career at Penn State, where in his first two seasons in 2006 and 2007, he registered 43 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 20 games under head coach Joe Paterno. But Baker said he tended to follow the crowd a bit too much at Penn State, and always wanted to be a part of the action.

Instead of walking away from a fight, Baker would be a willing participant, and often found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time – even if he wasn’t the one throwing punches.

In June 2007, Baker was expelled from school and suspended from the team after his alleged involvement in two separate fights. It was a major wake-up call for the rising college junior, who had NFL aspirations, but knew he had a significant hill to climb to get back on that track.

Baker transferred to Hampton University that year, where he said he matured both on and off the field.

In 2008, he posted 69 tackles (32 solo), 8.5 sacks and blocked a kick, and with his new-found maturity, he was able to get back on some NFL teams’ radars. He signed with the Broncos as a college free agent in April 2009, and, five years later, is the starting nose tackle for the Washington Redskins.

Along the way, Baker has been sure to tell those around him – especially children – how to avoid the same mistakes he made.

“Now I always share my message, and when you see trouble, go the other way because it is easy to get in trouble and hard to get out,” Baker said. “So you’ve got to make decisions and think about the bigger picture instead of that immediate rush that you get from seeing a fight or seeing something bad happen.”

Baker will often tell children to do the right thing, get good grades and create goals for themselves, because that’s exactly what he did when he transferred to Hampton, where he served as vice president of his class his junior and senior years.

And with everything Baker has learned along the way, he wanted to create an avenue in which he could make a tangible difference in children’s lives. So he recently launched his own foundation, the Chris Baker Foundation, to help aid school children from grades 3 through 5 prepare for higher levels of education.

Targeting that age group is important, Baker said, because if children have not learned to read by third grade, then they can be considered a failure by some school systems. The program is also beneficial for teachers, because it enables them to target specific weakness areas in their students.

The foundation is in its early stages, but has already been able to make an impact in Baker’s hometown of Windsor, Conn., with a free youth football camp for about 170 kids.

Soon, Baker hopes to extend his foundation fully into the Washington, D.C., area, and has already worked with officials at Wheatley Elementary School.

“I just want them to know that my foundation is really just to help kids out in any way possible, whether it is through mentorship if they are going into high school, or whether it is just helping them get better in whatever areas they struggle at in school, whether it’s English or Math,” Baker said.

Baker said he’s proud to have made an impact on his hometown as a professional athlete, a goal he set for himself when he was a child. After many ups – and some downs – along the way, Baker has come away from the experiences a better person overall.

“I always try to encourage kids that if you know it’s not right, then don’t do it, because it will cost yourself,” he said. “For me, it took going undrafted and getting kicked out of school for me to understand that when trouble happens, to go the other way.”

For more information on Baker’s foundation, go to www.ChrisBaker92.com.

RELATED LINKS:
-- BLOG: Chris Baker’s Engagement Photos Taken At FedExField
-- Chris Baker Wears Devon Still’s Jersey In Support Of Daughter

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