The TJ Carrie Foundation provides a social-emotionally supportive community for children and families living with heart conditions
The mission of the TJ Carrie Foundation is to provide a social-emotionally supportive community for children and families living with heart conditions, while educating the greater community on heart health. In addition to inspiring youth to Dream Big through education and physical activity.
When the NFL cornerback started his foundation in 2016, TJ’s goal was to help young people struggling with physical challenges, offering encouragement and advice to children and families dealing with health issues. Along with his wife, Ty’lsha, the foundation’s mission has grown to inspire all youths to establish and achieve big dreams. With signature programs and community events, the foundation provides a platform for TJ to be hands-on and engaged with young people and their families, helping them overcome their problems and accomplish their goals. The TJ Carrie Foundation’s approach is built on the pillars of faith, hope, courage, and love.
Being a professional football player being able to play the game is such a blessing for TJ each day and one that he does not take for granted. He dreamed about putting on those pads and helmet and playing under the Friday night lights, on Saturday afternoons, and even on to the NFL.
As a 14-year-old freshman at Deer Valley High School in Antioch, California, TJ was hyped to begin his journey. On the first day of tryouts, his life changed forever. It was hot, and they were working hard. He was sweating and was having trouble catching his breathing … and then it all went dark.
TJ left the field in an ambulance and was transported to thehospital. The medical personnel stabilized him. But the doctors were stumped as to what caused his problem. It was a year later before they had an answer. TJ had a one-in-a-million birth defect where his right coronary artery was positioned between his lungs.
The doctors gave a now 15-year-old and his family two choices. He could give up any strenuous physical activity for the rest of his life, ending his dreams of playing football. Or TJ could undergo risky surgery to correct the problem. With the help of his family, he decided to take a chance, so he could keep alive his big dream of playing football. On Valentine’s Day 2006, TJ underwent open-heart surgery at Oakland Children’s Hospital.
He spent two months recuperating in the hospital, part of what became a year-and-a-half-long recovery. It was hard, scary, and challenging, but he was driven by his big heart and a relentless work ethic to achieve his dream. He recovered and was finally able to play football as a senior at De La Salle High School in Concord, California, where the Spartans won a state championship that season. He went to Ohio University, where he played 50 games for the Bobcats and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports administration.
And his ultimate dream was achieved when Oakland selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft, beginning a pro career where he has worn the uniform of the Raiders, Browns, and Colts.