No single thing on Earth can make a man want to be a better person and get his act together quite like a daughter can.
When former Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway held his newborn baby girl Aulani for the first time, he knew his actions would now have an effect on more than just himself.
“It’s changing me a lot,” he said. “Just seeing something that I created. That’s a little version of me.”
Callaway’s time at Florida was littered with poor choices, from getting caught with marijuana to being a part of a credit card fraud scam that ultimately left him away from the team for the entire 2017 season. He said those days are now behind him.
“I’ve got a beautiful little girl to look after,” Callaway said. “So I’ve got no choice but to be a man.”
Even before his baby was born, he had a lot of time to reflect on his mistakes. After all, it’s been a year and a half since the last time he played in a game.
He was letting the dream he grew up working towards pass him by.
“That experience right there took me away from football, away from the game that I love,” Callaway said. “It humbled me. It just showed me how much more I even love the game. I thought I loved it, but being away from it showed me how much I really loved it.”
The opportunity to play the game he loves is now back in front of him.
Dan Mullen invited both Callaway and former safety Matt Elam back to participate in Florida’s Pro Day despite the mistakes they’ve made off the field.
“They’re a part of this family,” Mullen said. “This is an opportunity for them. Today’s a dream day for everybody. This is an opportunity to go live your dream, show coaches what you can do and have that dream of playing professional football. I’m a big believer that people deserve second chances in life, and in everything.”
After performing well at the NFL Combine, Callaway was able to show off his skillset in front of NFL coaches and scouts again on Wednesday.
But his ability has never been the issue. He led Florida with 89 catches for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns over his first two seasons.
Had Callaway not gotten caught up in trouble, he could easily be a first round draft pick getting ready to sign a contract worth millions upon millions of dollars right now. Instead, his future in the NFL is unclear.
The thing it really comes down to now is interviewing and making teams believe him when he says he is a changed man.
He drew a lot of interest at Pro Day, and he is confident someone will take that chance.
“Whoever takes a shot with me, I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got,” Callaway said. “They won’t be disappointed. Whoever doesn’t, that’s on them.”
Callaway has a lot of talent, and it would be a shame to see it go to waste. The team that takes him could get the steal of a lifetime or be left with a bust.
He is saying all the right things right now, and fatherhood can truly change a person, but he still must prove it with his actions.