Commentary

Acho's mission continues

Texas linebacker continuing his bigger goal with NFL hopes in mind

Updated: April 25, 2012, 9:50 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

They were together again last weekend.

Mom's birthday.

[+] EnlargeSam Acho, Emmanuel Acho
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesSam and Emmanuel Acho would join the 335 sets of brothers who have played in the NFL.
There was Stephanie, the sister, older than her brothers, always doting but also reminding them how she used to convince (read: muscle) them into doing her dishes.

There was Sam, the middle brother, the chubby center from parks and rec basketball way back, still with the quick smile and NFL career.

Then there was Emmanuel, the youngest, the one who walked almost as fast as he talked, always trying to stay in Sam's footsteps but taking two steps to every one of his brother's.

They came together from divergent paths -- an MBA student, a professional athlete, an NFL hopeful. They left much the same way. But this family  "a blessed family," Stephanie called it -- has a singular goal. And no matter the paths they travel, the Achos will never lose sight or waver from that goal.

"We want them to help people who cannot otherwise help themselves," said Dr. Sonny Acho, the patriarch. "We always want to remind them, regardless of how big you get, there is always people who are not able to be like you that you can help."

The children have done just that. There have been mission trips to Isuikwuato, Nigeria as a part of the family's Living Hope Ministries. There are YouTube videos by the brothers in an attempt to shed light into the lives around them. And there are other countless selfless acts -- hospital visits, fundraisers, school visits -- that have been performed in and out of the spotlight by the family.

In two days, maybe three, maybe four, the platform from which one brother, Emmanuel, will be able to speak will grow. He is expected to become the next NFL athlete in his family, when his name is called in this week's draft.

The moment will be cause for yet another celebration for the Achos.

"We don't know what to feel and what to think and how to process the whole thing, other than to say that's a blessing to see one child and then the possibility of the second child go, that is amazing," Sonny Acho said.

But for them, the amazement isn't rooted in the money or even the sport. For the Achos, while they love the sport of football, this life isn't about the game, it is about living a true life and affecting other lives.

"A lot of people are talented at this game," Emmanuel said. "But it is not so much what you do on the field but what you can do on the field to enable you to do bigger and better things off the field.

"That's what I strive to do. That is what my college career has been based on. That is what it is all about."

"They understand what it means to be humble," Stephanie said. "And they know while you have the opportunity you need to make the most of that opportunity."

That the opportunity to have a platform such as the NFL has come to another of the Acho family is rare blessing. There have only been 335 sets of brothers to play in the NFL.

Brothers like Peyton and Eli Manning were rooted in the sport from an early age. Sam and Emmanuel never truly found football until arriving at St. Mark's High School in Dallas.

"We tried them [in] baseball, basketball, so many sports, but when they find football in high school we knew," Sonny Acho said.

They also knew that by coming to the sport late, not being immersed in its glorification culture, that Sam and Emmanuel would be different. They understood what their priorities were and what their mission should be without being told.

"We wanted people to know [Sam and Emmanuel] are people who are intelligent people, respectful people and they would get involved in the community," Sonny Acho said.

Those are the same tenets Emmanuel will carry with him as he joins his brother in what is unquestionably America's most visible and marketed sport. And Emmanuel is well aware of the wide-reaching impact he can make.

"Playing at Texas you have a big influence on Texas," he said. "But playing for an NFL team you have a big influence on the nation."

First, of course, he must make it. There has been little question Emmanuel will be drafted. There has been some question as to where. It will be in the middle rounds, probably. Not that it matters that much.

"First or seventh round, don't worry about it," Sam told his brother last weekend. "Don't watch [the NFL Draft] and be jealous because this person went there. Be happy for that person. Or if the [Arizona] Cardinals have a linebacker spot open and you don't get picked, don't get angry.

"Just watch it as a spectator. Know at the end of the day wherever you go, you are going there for a reason. You are meant to be there. It's all part of God's plan for you."

And it's all another step for the Acho family as it tries to achieve its goal of helping others help themselves.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation