Abdul-Rafiu “Dully” Apata, a senior at Florida A&M University, once dreamed of being a football star.
But Apata has faced numerous challenges due to sports injuries that have forced him to rethink his priorities — and his dreams.
His journey shines a light on the importance of balancing a love for sports with safety concerns.
Apata’s football career was filled with setbacks. His injuries began when he was 13and in the eighth grade, when he had a slight tear in his meniscus. Apata sat out for the next two years and then history repeated itself his senior year of high school.
“My meniscus flipped from the back to the front two days before the first game causing me to miss my whole senior year,” Apata said.
Apata’s injury in his senior year was heart breaking because he was finally getting recognition from colleges. But he was not able to be out there with his teammates and contribute to the team.
“The doctor warned me that if such an injury were to happen again, I could develop arthritis before the age of 40,” Apata said.
As a talented athlete, he was a preferred walk-on at Savannah State University.
The injuries not only impacted his athletic career but also raised concerns about his long-term health.
Davinco Flowers, a close friend of Apata, witnessed him navigate through this unexpected phase in his career.
“Dully pushing through his injury was not easy to witness. He was down and sad knowing he couldn’t help his team to succeed the way he would want to. His changes went from an active player to active motivator because he couldn’t play but he didn’t let it get him disconnected from his team. He would still come to every practice and every game and motivate and make jokes to players it also sparked up his creativity turning him into the up and coming clothing designer he is today,” Flowers said.
Considering the potential consequences, Apata had to make a difficult decision about his future in football.
“I loved the game, and it was tough to let go of that dream,” Apata said.
He spoke with family and friends about making the final decision. Despite the challenges, Apata’s story is not one of despair.
He made the brave decision to prioritize his health and shifted his focus from playing football to pursuing a career related to sports broadcasting. He also started his own business, Chosen Amir apparel.
“It was difficult to accept the change at first, but I realized there are other ways to stay connected to the sports world,” Apata said.
Today, Apata works as an associate producer and sports multi-media journalist for FAMU TV 20 and a co-host for 90.5 FM’s “The playmakers” show. He is currently pursuing his dream of being a sports reporter.
“I have been playing sports since the age of 11. Although I may not be physically performing, I have a lot of experience and background knowledge of the game,” Apata said.
Apata’s story serves as a valuable reminder that sports injuries can have profound effects on individuals and their career paths. Apata realized that life was much bigger than football. As soon as he stopped playing football, he started his clothing brand.
Apata teaches us that resilience and adaptability are essential traits, even when faced with unexpected challenges.