Military Veteran, Purple Heart and Bronze Star Recipient, NY Times Bestselling Author ("Rise"), Wide Receiver & NFL Draftee
Daniel Rodriguez has quite a story, but before we introduce you to the modern day man, let’s take a trip back in time. Daniel started playing football at the age of six. Though he didn’t know it at the time, it was a passion that would eventually shape his future. With several Division II and…
Daniel Rodriguez has quite a story, but before we introduce you to the modern day man, let’s take a trip back in time. Daniel started playing football at the age of six. Though he didn’t know it at the time, it was a passion that would eventually shape his future. With several Division II and III schools recruiting Daniel by the time his junior and senior years of high school rolled around, the future looked bright.
Four days after graduation, however, Daniel’s father Ray suffered a massive heart attack and died. Ray, a military veteran, had played a pivotal role in Daniel’s life. He wasn’t just a father; he had been his son’s mentor and coach.
In the wake of losing his father, Daniel made the decision to enlist in the Army. His first tour was a 15-month deployment to Baghdad. After returning home, Daniel spent an additional year in training before leaving for a 12-month tour in northern Afghanistan. He had just celebrated his 20th birthday.
On Oct. 3, 2009, Daniel was one of 53 Americans who battled insurgents after nearly 400 Taliban attacked the American Combat Outpost Keating near the town of Kamdesh. For more than 12 hours Daniel continued to fight with shrapnel embedded in his neck and leg and bullet fragments lodged in his shoulder. Eight U.S. soldiers were killed during the skirmish, including Daniel’s close friend, Kevin Thompson. Daniel was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with a “V” Device for Valor.
Upon returning home from his tours of duty overseas, Daniel often found himself feeling unfocused and displaced amidst the normalcy of stateside life. As a result, he turned to drinking to calm his anxieties and soothe his mind. The darkness that accompanied his diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder made Daniel’s transition from combat to classroom difficult when he enrolled at Germanna Community College just three months after returning from Afghanistan. Somehow Daniel dug deep and found a way to power through.
The following autumn, Daniel returned to school with renewed determination. Having survived the wounds of war, both physical and emotional, Daniel found himself at a crossroads. He could continue down a path of drinking and despair, or he could make the decision to turn his life around and focus on the future. In a moment of clarity, Daniel remembered a promise he made to a close friend who had died in combat. In order to get back to football, Daniel formed a plan to remain focused on academics, transfer to a different school and walk on to the team of his dreams.
Achieving the goal would not be easy, however. Along with the plan came a regimen that included a strict diet and six hours per day worth of workouts with a trainer. In addition, Daniel self-produced a recruitment video that would ultimately flood the inboxes of hundreds of college football coaches after going viral on Twitter and YouTube.
In the wake of the video, Daniel fielded interest from the likes of Virginia Tech and NC State, but when Clemson University Head Coach Dabo Swinney reached out, something in Daniel’s gut told him to pick up the phone and call. It was a conversation that would change Daniel’s life.
Swinney offered Daniel the opportunity to walk onto the team and take part in the preseason camp. After a mad rush and daunting application process that included getting waivers from the ACC and NCAA in order to make him academically eligible to play, Daniel headed off to Tiger Nation for summer classes…and the rest, as they say, is history.
At Clemson Daniel played in 37 consecutive games primarily on special teams. After graduating in December of 2014 as a two time All ACC Academic Daniel kept on pursuing football by training at EXOS in Los Angeles California.
He is now currently signed with the St Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent!
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
Determination, Grit, and Perseverance: The Journey from Kamdesh to Clemson
Daniel Rodriguez shares the unforgettable story of how he survived one of the bloodiest battles in Afghanistan and lived to pursue his dream of playing college football. Never asking for a handout, only a chance, he reminds audiences what it means to take control and work to succeed. With grit, determination, and the power of social media, he inspires audiences to tap into their potential and work to make their lives meaningful. An emotionally-moving storyteller, he shares how he found his way out of darkness and accomplished his unlikely dream, coming back from the edge of war in order to honor his friend’s life and create a new one for himself. This powerful keynote resonates with anyone who has ever fought for what they wanted.
Daniel Rodriguez: Playing On
Daniel Rodriguez - PDA Speakers
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