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Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Updated: July 9, 7:21 AM ET
Under Beast Mode's pads

By Morty Ain
ESPN The Magazine

This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014. Subscribe today!

I got to show some love for the fat backs. Don't matter if we don't get love, as long as I give mine.

Even though I get butt-a-- naked, I'm still gonna let my body do the talking for me. I'm cool with my body, I love my body. I wouldn't trade it for no other body.

Walking atop the monkey bars -- that's how we played tag. We couldn't touch the concrete. That was the only way you could get away -- run atop the monkey bars, on the rails, up and down the slides -- because if you touched the ground you out, and if you out you can't play.

It was a blast growing up in Oakland. We used to walk to house parties, play doorbell ditch, have rock fights, do front flips and backflips off concrete walls off and into the bushes. Take the boxing gloves out and box in the middle of the streets.

Michael Phelps wouldn't have been on the Wheaties box if I stuck with swimming. I've been swimming since I was a little kid. I still swim. I'm the best. I am Olympic caliber right now, hell yeah.

I did some training with an MMA coach before last season. The biggest difference was the boxing. You learn not only how to maneuver your weight but use it to your advantage when defenders approach you to try to tackle you -- use their leverage against them and it helps. My stiff-arm has been more effective because of it.

To learn to do backflips and front flips, you had to fall and bump your head a couple times. I've been doing them since I was a little one, though. Just something I've enjoyed doing, just flip. I was in third grade trying them out. We used to go around the corner to this parking lot where they had these mattresses, like people would come and throw their old mattresses over there. We used to run and do front flips on them. But then I started trying without the mattresses. Yeah, I had injuries. I did some s--- to my shoulder, got about 14 stitches in my leg, about seven more in my hand. All from the concrete.

Michael Phelps wouldn't have been on the Wheaties box if I stuck with swimming. I am Olympic caliber right now.

My grandma loves the StairMaster thing! She's got a machine in the front room, get them legs right!

You never want to be the one who everyone is going to bust jokes on. The only way to prevent that is to be good at something.

When I'm asleep, I'm asleep. The worst thing my body goes through? Waking up in the morning to my alarm. Body shock. I don't want to be up right now.

Marshawn Lynch

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