What’s one thing that you would like people to know about you?
Most people don’t realize that Vernon and I are brothers. (Vernon Davis is the tight end for the San Francisco 49ers.) Vernon was like a father figure to me growing up.
Why was that?
Well, my mother and father really weren’t around much. My grandmother raised us, and Vernon was like the father figure. When he was 16, I was about 12. He was the guy that made sure we were doing well in school and getting good grades and playing football. Vernon helped instill the work ethic that I needed to get better.
You grew up in the Washington DC area. Was it tough growing up there?
For sure. There was a lot of gang violence and drug activity going on. We were lucky that we never got caught up in that. That’s why my family is such a big part of my success.
So they must have been thrilled when you got a scholarship to Illinois for football?
Oh yeah. There were seven of us. My grandmother couldn’t afford to send us all to college. So that just made it so much easier.
Was it hard to move away from your family? They had been your support system.
It wasn’t bad. Vernon went to the University of Maryland, so he was close by. I was excited to blaze my own path and go out and see new things.
At what point did you feel that the pros were a possibility?
You start to go up against guys that are rated high, guys that are projected to get drafted high. When I played well against them, that’s when I knew I could do it.
You were drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins. Things didn’t click for you there right away. Why do you think that was the case?
The NFL is a tough place to learn things quickly. You’re a young guy, and you’re learning how to be a professional . And Miami is a very fast place to learn. There are a lot of distractions. The growth process is hard in football. That’s why most guys only last a few years.
The move to Indianapolis really seemed to provide you with an opportunity to fulfill your potential. Was it the organization or the timing?
It was everything. You’re maturing as a player and as a person. You start to find mentors. I learned how important the people in my life are. Coach Pagano was a guy that I related to right away. He was a defensive guy, so we connected immediately. I had good coach in Miami, but it was a different relationship. But it’s about the process. This has been a journey for me. If I had been drafted by a team other than the Dolphins, I could be in a completely different situation then I am right now. Growth takes time.
This year, you’ve had a phenomenal Pro Bowl season. It seems like the whole Colts team has taken major steps forward. Do you feel as though you are all growing together?
Definitely. We’re all very young, so we’re excited about where we are. I think our success is something that is sustainable for a while.
You went into Denver and took it to a team that a lot of people projected to win the Super Bowl.
Everyone knows Tom Brady, Peyton Manning. As a young team, you have to earn your respect. I think we’re trending in the right direction in that way. We’re earning it.
On Twitter, with you’re hashtag #VontaeCorner, you’re often posting inspirational messages and quotes. What made you decide to use Twitter in that fashion?
I’m always reading inspirational quotes and stories to grow. I’m just a guy who’s trying to stay positive and maybe help others do the same. My fiancée, Megan, is also a very open minded person. She’s inspired me to think outside the box on a lot of things in life.
(Rogue Art Photography)
Congratulations! When are you getting married?
We’re getting married in June. Megan is studying to be a lawyer at the University of Illinois.
That’s probably the best NFL retirement plan out there!
(Laughs.) She’s amazing. She’s really helped me look at life in a whole new way. We went on a trip to Africa together that was life changing.
Where did you go?
We went to Uganda and Rwanda to help kids with hearing difficulties get hearing aids. It was an incredible experience. When you start to do things like that, it changes the way you think about everything.