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Marcellus Wiley

Marcellus Wiley, co-host of "Speak For Yourself" on FS1, has never had a problem expressing his opinion, whether it was growing up in Compton with a football tucked under his arm, or going to college at Columbia University, where he learned to survive Advanced Calculus and self-important pseudo-intellectuals. Or making it to the NFL against all odds, where he put together a ten-year career of massive paydays, massive painkillers and massive sacks of everyone from Steve Young to Peyton Manning. Here is an excerpt of his book, Never Shut Up.

Grandma was a lot of things, but she was not a shrinking violet.

So when she saw me at her house that day, about a month after the daily beatings had started, she wasn't about to ignore me and mind her own business. No way. She saw me sitting by myself, worried, nervous, alone, and she stopped what she was doing immediately.

"What's wrong with you, boy?" she asked.

I took a deep breath. I knew I wasn't supposed to snitch, but I couldn't hold it in any longer.

I told her bullies had been messing with me. I told her I didn't want anyone else to know, but that I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing.

"Is it bad that I don't want to fight people, Grandma?"

Marcellus Wiley, Never Shut Up Cover She looked at me and smiled.

"Alright," she said. "Go get a piece of paper, bring it back here, and write down who you are."

"Huh?" I said.

"You heard me. Go get a piece of paper and write down who you are."

I got a piece of paper, sat down at the table, and wrote my name. Marcellus Vernon Wiley.

"Okay, good," she said. "Now write down three things about you that make you who you are."

I thought for a second, and wrote my first thing.

"Well," I said, "I'm smart."

"Why?" she said.

"Because I work hard at school and I always get As. Sometimes Bs, but mostly As."

I was a huge nerd. I was on the academic decathlon team and came in second in my school spelling bee. I lost to Kenya Petteway because I didn't say "capital ‘Q' " when they asked me to spell "Queen," as in "Queen Elizabeth." I spelled "queen" right, I just didn't say the "Q" should be capitalized. So I lost! Now I ask you, is that fair?

"That's my baby," she said. "What next?"

I wrote down my second thing.

"I'm an athlete," I said.


"Because I beat everyone at my school in running every single morning."

And it's true, I did. Every single morning before class I would challenge everyone in my school to racing, and I'd beat them all, even the older kids. Well, all except one other boy named Hanky, who I knew was faster than me. I made sure he was using the bath- room whenever I told people I wanted to race.

Marcellus Wiley

"Very good," she said. "And what last?"

I wrote down my third and final thing.

"I'm nice," I said. "I like everybody. Even if they don't like me, I still like them."

Grandma didn't even have to ask me why. We both knew that was who I was -- and that it was why I hated to fight. Not because I wasn't strong enough to, not even because I was scared. But because I was a genuinely warm, caring person. Fighting wasn't in my nature.

"Perfect," she said. "Now take that piece of paper, fold it up, and put it under your bed. For the rest of your life, if someone calls you by one of those three things, listen to them. If they call you anything else, I don't care what it is -- buster, geek, sissy, anything -- you don't listen to a damn word they say. You understand me?"

"Yes, Grandma."

"Good. And don't you forget -- it's not only what you are that matters, but what you are not. And you ain't no gangbanger."

Marcellus Wiley

A couple days later, the beatings finally stopped. It had been four long, painful weeks.

Now, I wish I could say my grandma's advice somehow magically made the gang members go away, but this was life in the hood, not a fairy tale. What actually happened was my grandma told my mama, who told my uncles, who had a good long private "talk" with the teenagers who were screwing with us. Lucky for them, it stopped there and no one wound up dead. When it was all said and done, my uncles were grown-ass men and these were some teen punks --  beating their butts was enough to get the message across.

But that wasn't the most important thing that happened. Not even close.

That was the piece of paper. I kept it hidden away, exactly like my grandma said. When I was feeling bad, or confused, I'd get it out and I'd look at it, and I'd remember who I was. I'd remember that who I was came from inside me, not from the world I lived in. I'd remember that I was different, and that that was a good thing.

With that piece of paper, I had taken my first right turn onto my very own path.

-- Excerpted by permission from Never Shut Up: The Life, Opinions, And Unexpected Adventures Of An NFL Outlier by Marcellus Wiley. Copyright (c) 2018 by Dat Dude Entertainment, Inc. Published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Marcellus Wiley on Twitter @marcelluswiley.