Troy Aikman Biography

Troy Aikman retired this year, a football hero to many because of leading the Dallas Cowboys to three championships. Children may consider him a hero for another reason.

He was one of the most successful quarterbacks in National Football League history, and many Dallas Cowboy fans would consider him a football hero. Many children, who have seen how he cares for them, also think he's a hero. The quarterback, who was one of football's most durable, and who overcame countless concussions and other injuries, announced his retirement earlier this year.

After being drafted number one in the NFL draft by the Cowboys in 1989, Aikman led the cowboys to Super Bowl championships in Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX. Aikman led teams played in four consecutive NFC championships from 1992-1995, won six NFC east titles, including five consecutive, and he was the 10th rated lifetime passer going into the 2000 season. His 61.6% lifetime passing percentage going into the 2000 season was the third highest in NFL history, and in the 1990's he became the winningest quarterback in any decade ever.

He has also been recognized for his work for and with children. On January 22, 1998, he received one of professional football's highest honors when he was named NFL man of the year. In large part the honor came because of his Troy Aikman Foundation, which was founded in 1992 "to provide financial support for the physical, psychological, social and educational needs of dependent children whose needs are not being met, either in whole or part, by any other viable resource."

NFL president Neil Austrian said the award emphasizes the "dual importance" of a player's contributions on and off the field.

"Troy Aikman personifies the ideal leadership on the playing field and in the community," Austrian said.

Currently his charity is involved in establishing Aikman's End Zone playrooms in children's hospitals. Money from his fan club and his children's book, "Things Change," benefit the foundation. The book was the best-selling children's sport's book in 1995 and sold more than 100,000 copies.

The first playroom was established in 1996 at Children's Medical Center in Dallas, with a grant of $250,000 from the foundation and in-kind donations of technology and products.

The area had an 8-foot replica of his helmet, a theater, with a seven-foot by five- foot screen and a laser disc screen. There were also 1200 fiber optic stars on the ceiling, an interactive computer network and a saltwater aquarium with exotic fish.

Another End Zone opened at Cook-Fort Worth Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, May 8, 1997, and a third opened in Oklahoma City February 23, 1999. Aikman hopes there will eventually by End Zones in children's hospitals in every city that has an NFL franchise. A fourth will soon be established at UCLA Children's Medical Center.



An unusual feature of the End Zones is Troy formed a partnership with his charity and Starbright Foundation, chaired by movie director, Steven Spielberg. Starbright World created an online computer network that links hospitalized children across the country. In every End Zone there are "Star Stations," which feature Starbright World, a "high bandwidth" computer network in which children may, in "three dimensional animated play space," meet with other critically ill children, play together and talk with each other via video conferencing . Sometimes a familiar face, Aikman, will join. He has the system at home, allowing him to interact with children.

Although the Troy Aikman Foundation is his main interest, the former player helps charities in other ways. Aikman and former Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach co-chaired the Beyond the Rainbow Luncheon to benefit the Children's Cancer Fund. Old and new Cowboys join young cancer patients in a fashion show. Aikman also was honorary chairman in April 1998 of the Gunslingers' Ball, which benefits the American Cancer Society.

In 1997 Aikman hosted a race in Fort Worth, which benefited his charity and the Speedway Children's charity. He has also raised money for disaster relief for the Red Cross.

He signed 500 autographs in an hour and a half at a benefit for the Texas Special Olympics on May 21, 1997. He hosted another race in 1997 for the same charities the other race benefited. In 1997 and 1998 he played in a Celebrity Softball Tournament in Nashville to raise funds for the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute, which is famous worldwide for research into cancer, diabetes and AIDS.

Aikman has also tried to serve as a role model and has received numerous other honors. In 1998 he visited the Barbara Bush Middle School in Irving, Texas, to warn of the dangers of smokeless tobacco. He also stared in several public service announcements warning of the danger of the tobacco. He told the children he decided to quit in 1997 after learning his mother, who is now well, was diagnosed with breast cancer and because his grandfather died of lung cancer when he was 10.

In 1989 Troy established a scholarship at his high school to enable underprivileged students attend college. He also provided a full athletic scholarship at UCLA.

Aikman is also involved with the Make-A-Wish foundation, visiting children with terminal illnesses. Aikman is involved in numerous other charitable causes.

Children appreciate the End Zones.

"Before having access to Starbright World, it was pretty boring," said Michael, a teenager, afflicted with cystic fibrosis since two weeks of age. "After the computers "¦you were able to talk to other people who had the same problems"¦.and to play games."

The program helps children from across the United States and Canada. Some of the games which teach children in a fun way about diseases at the playrooms using CD-Roms are: The Sickle Cell Slime-O-Rama, to teach about Sickle Cell Anemia; a program about cystic fibrosis; Living With Kidney Disease; a program about blood tests, a program about diabetes and others.

As an example of how one game works, in the game about diabetes, children must help an alien who has landed on earth by collecting the right tools, such as a blood sugar meter and insulin.

Troy Aikman has had many accomplishments in his life in football, acting and even singing. In addition to the pro football accomplishments, such as championships, Pro Bowls and passing records, he had many honors in college football. He was the third highest rated passer in college history and was a Heisman Trophy finalist . As an actor, he played himself in the movie, "Jerry Maguire," and stared in several television episodes and series including, "The Simpson," in which he played himself, "King of the Hills," playing himself," and "Coach," playing himself. He also recorded a song on "NFL Country," with country star Toby Keith and made other recordings on various records.

Some children may think the greatest reason he is a star, however, is because he cares about them.

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