There’s something to be said for a high school athlete mixing hard work with elite athleticism.
Donald Winston is a former Purdue football player who “figured out at a very early age that his athletic ability could be his escape from a life that began in urban poverty with threats of violence, drug addiction, gang war, and other crime waiting under every street light.”
Winston was wise enough to escape a life of poverty in housing projects in Haughville by gaining a scholarship to Scecina high school and then Purdue for college.
After college, Winston married his high school sweetheart, Laura Winston, and became vice president of an international company located in Indiana.
"Today Winston is vice president of operations with the Ardagh Group, an international packaging corporation with 23,500 employees in 22 countries. The comfortable home where he lives with his wife, Laura, and two children in suburban Carmel, Indiana, is a few miles and light years from a housing project in Haughville, the west side Indianapolis neighborhood where he spent the first eight years of his life. Haughville then had one of the highest homicide rates in America. In the 1990s, according to Indianapolis police statistics, more than one out of three residents had been a victim of violent crime."
Another part of the article that stuck out is that despite escaping his impoverished environment, Winston hasn’t turned his back. Instead, he and his family spend time helping out at Wheeler Mission.
"The family volunteers at Wheeler Mission, a ministry that provides food and other assistance to homeless people, in the same neighborhood where Donald grew up. Many of the homes there are now boarded up with overgrown lawns. “Our kids are growing up a lot differently from Laura and me,” Winston says. “We want them to understand that a lot of people are less fortunate.” Winston understands the critical role community programs play for struggling families. Although he never lived on the street as a boy, he remembers frequent evictions and depending on extended family for shelter."
Purdue football fans – and, heck, anyone who enjoys a good underdog story – should read this feature on Donald Winston found in the Purdue Alumni Association magazine.