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Oaklands Raiders player and Johnston native Antonio Hamilton speaks to kids at STEM camp

July 13, 2017 GMT

Work hard, be smart and read.

That is what Antonio Hamilton, cornerback for the Oakland Raiders, hopes kids got out of his talk at the Edgefield County Youth Empowerment Center’s STEM camp Wednesday.

The Center’s CEO Marcella Edwards said the camp helps prevent summer learning loss and to engage “latchkey kids” whose parents work during the day.

Students have put together robots and a roller coaster as part of the program.

Hamilton, who grew up in Johnston, talked to the kids in the program about the importance of doing their best in school and doing the right thing.

“Don’t be afraid to be the smartest person in the classroom,” he told them.

He also stressed the importance of trying. He told the kids to try and answer questions in class because even if they get it wrong, they are at least trying and it will help them learn.

Hamilton stressed the importance of reading. Even if you only read one page a day at first, reading is critical, he said.

He tied math and reading to football – he has to read plays and uses angles when tackling.

Hamilton also talked about staying out of trouble.

“You don’t have to do the bad stuff to fit in,” he told the students.

Hamilton talked about his father being in prison and how that shaped him.

He stressed the importance of never giving up, telling stories about how he almost quit playing football in high school, and how he faced various types of adversity during his freshman year of college, before he transferred to S.C. State University.

“Always stay positive. No matter the situation, no matter where you come from, like no matter what your home life is like, always have a goal and work hard to get it because nothing is going to be handed to you,” he said. “And be your worst critic, no one can get you down, nobody can push you to do anything as hard as yourself because you’re only going to do what you allow yourself to do.”

The Edgefield County Youth Empowerment Center offers a variety of programs to students aged 5 to 18, including Life Skills, Girls Circle, Afterschool “Matter,” Job Readiness for Teens, recreational activities, the STEM summer program and parenting classes.

Edwards said they are the only center in the county that provides those programs.