Minnesota Vikings rookie Mackensie Alexander hasn't been afraid to talk about his humble beginnings, ever since he was drafted by the Vikings in the second round of the NFL Draft.
When he runs out onto the field for the Vikings tonight it will be the first NFL game he's ever been to in person. Alexander didn't have all of the advantages of some athletes, his humble beginnings have meant that everything he's ever accomplished has only come from one thing – hard work.
It's that work ethic that caught the eye of one for NFL great.
Edgerrin James happened to pass by one day as Alexander was working out on his high school football field in Florida. It's a moment Alexander won't soon forget.
"The first thing, he was impressed, I'll never forget it," Alexander told Vikings.com. "He said, 'You don't see kids like you working like this anymore,' and he gave me [a pair of his football] gloves and told me to just keep working hard and you'll achieve your dreams. I just kept working hard pushing myself to get to this point."
While it's likely Alexander will see a pretty good amount of playing time tonight during the Vikings preseason opener, if he wants to see more of it during the regular season he'll have to keep working.
ESPN's Ben Goessling notes that Vikings coach Mike Zimmer likes to put his corners through a crash course in the team's defense, before they see a lot of game action. How quickly he learns the Vikings' coverage techniques will likely determine how soon he'll get on the field.
The good news is that things appear to be off to a good start.
And with Alexander's work ethic, you already know he won't stop working until gets there.