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Tight-Lipped Marshawn Lynch Opens His Heart To Oakland

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is headed to the Super Bowl. And as we've heard on this program, he's even meeting the media, which he hates to do.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARSHAWN LYNCH: I'm just here so I don't get fined.

INSKEEP: That was Lynch's response to every question at media day.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Just so you know, Steve, I'm just here so I don't get fined.

INSKEEP: I thought it was the coffee.

MONTAGNE: Well, that, too.

INSKEEP: So Mr. Lynch does not like talking but does make noise in his hometown of Oakland. Here's Youth Radio's Catory Goodman.

CATORY GOODMAN, BYLINE: Marshawn Lynch got his start in football here at Oakland Technical High School. He's a star on campus. His picture is up in classrooms, and everyone knows he went to Tech. Lynch led our school to Oakland's interleague championship game and then got a full ride to play football at UC Berkeley in 2004. From there, he went on to the National Football League.

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TOM HAMMOND: What a run. Marshawn Lynch still on his feet for the touchdown.

GOODMAN: In this play, Lynch ran 67 yards against the New Orleans Saints for a touchdown and broke through nine tackles along the way. Lynch's high school coach, K.C. O'Keith, still coaches at Tech and to this day, raves about that play.

K.C. O'KEITH: He went ballistically crazy. Do you hear me? He just - pow. I mean, that's beast mode. Get out of my way because here I come.

GOODMAN: Coach O'Keith says he's proud that Lynch is still a presence in the community. Lynch started a foundation called Fam 1st that runs a summer football camp for kids. As he told ESPN in 2013, he wants to give back to Oakland kids who had it tough like he did. My classmate, junior Bessie Zolno, says Lynch is a role model.

BESSIE ZOLNO: I think his whole career and everything that he stands for just shows that no matter, like, what your background is and no matter where you come from, you can succeed if you, like, work at it hard enough.

GOODMAN: Lynch has gotten a reputation for misbehaving. He pled guilty to a hit-and-run and went to jail for driving under the influence. He's also recently been fined for obscene gestures on the field. And the most recent controversy is his ongoing refusal to answer media questions. San Jose Mercury News sports columnist Mark Purdy says it doesn't bother him that Lynch won't talk to the media.

MARK PURDY: But I don't know how that helps promote the good stuff he does in the community or in Oakland's case, the good stuff that goes on in Oakland.

GOODMAN: I may not be into football but like Marshawn Lynch, I'm all about repping Oakland. So maybe I'll even watch him in this Sunday's Super Bowl. For NPR News, I'm Catory Goodman.

INSKEEP: A story produced by Youth Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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