C.J. Stroud’s secret ambition beyond NFL stardom
Why so serious?
Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud said that is a common narrative he hears about himself as he has emerged as a star in his rookie season.
But that couldn’t be further from his mainly private reality, which includes a desire to one day be an actor.
“I just really love movies and TV shows, that’s kind of like my getaway,” Stroud told The Post while discussing his work with REFORM Alliance, the nonprofit organization committed to transforming probation and parole throughout the United States by changing laws, systems and culture.
“Movies helped me escape my reality at times when I was a kid. They helped me get into a new mindset… and showed me here’s a different way of life, you know? I always kind of just joke around, but after I’m done playing, I want to kind of be an actor or something. I want to see what it’s like because I just love TV shows and movies.”
As for what genre he’d pursue?
5C.J. Stroud runs out onto the field for a Dec. 31, 2023 game. Getty Images“Ether a comedy, like a rom com,” Stroud said. “Something that will make you feel good and also, I would want to be in a TV show like ‘Power’ or ‘Snowfall’ … I would like to be like a ’90s drug kingpin or something.”
Stroud, who turned 22 in October, described himself as “very laid back, chill and relaxed,” but said that he’s often labeled as being reserved.
“You can label that as serious or mature or whatever you want to call it,” he said. “But I just think that kind of stems just from my childhood. I had to kind of grow up a little fast.”
His father, Coleridge Bernard Stroud III, was incarcerated when the Texans quarterback was just 13 years old, which left his family of six “in financial ruin” and on the brink of homelessness.
In 2015, Stroud III pleaded guilty to charges of carjacking, kidnapping, robbery, evading an officer with reckless driving and misdemeanor sexual battery after he fled San Diego Harbor Police and crashed his vehicle before jumping into the San Diego Bay, according to Sports Illustrated.
5C.J. Stroud talks about his incarcerated father during an interview on Nov. 9, 2023. APA repeat offender, the former pastor was sentenced to 38 years in prison and is eligible for parole in 2040 when he will be 74 years old.
At one point Stroud and his three siblings brothers Isaiah, Asmar and sister Ciara along with their mother Kimberly lived in a small apartment above a storage unit in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca.
Stroud, who was very close with his father, didn’t speak to him for years after his incarceration, but the pair have since rekindled their relationship.
“I was blessed enough to make it through my issues and my problems and have a great support system around me to get past those type of things,” Stroud said. “But it wasn’t easy.
“… As a kid, I didn’t think what I was going through was out of the norm. I thought it was very unique and it just didn’t make sense all the time… I want people to know that you see me, of course it looks like everything is going great, but that’s just not reality.”
Stroud stressed the importance of being just like any other person in the world that deals with life’s challenges.
5C.J. Stroud has had an excellent rookie season for the Texans. AP“I think it’s good for people to know that we’re professional athletes regular people and we go through things that everybody else goes through,” he said.
“I’m very in tune, at least I try to be in tune, with my vulnerability and emotions, being helpful, treating the next person like I want to be treated. I try to be nice in that aspect.
“Even though I can be wrong a hundred times, I always try to forgive people because that’s what Christ asked us to do. So I try to do my best when it comes to that, but I’m still figuring it out a little bit.”
When he’s not helping to lead the Texans to a potential playoff berth, Stroud said he enjoys going to amusement parks (he’s a rollercoaster guy) and the gun range.
Stroud said his father is a pastor in prison, and watched his first full Texans game on TV when Houston beat the Denver Broncos, 22-17, on Dec. 3.
It was also the game during which Stroud wore a custom pair of cleats with the word REFORM on the back as well as the phrase “Free Pops” as part of the NFLs “My Cause My Cleats” initiative.
“He was super excited about that because we have had no primetime games, which is yeah, kind of crazy, but it is what it is,” Stroud said. “But this last game was the first full game he got to watch.
5C.J. Stroud at the NFL Draft on April 27, 2023. Getty Images“He’ll call me, give me advice and I just ask him to. He can see the facial expressions that I make. I’m very calm and settled. I don’t really give much, but he can tell I’m a little frustrated or I’m too high or too low. He’ll keep me honest… It’s been good to hear that he’s doing good in there.”
Stroud began working with REFORM Alliance and its Gen-Z council to help others in similar situations and achieve criminal justice reform after attending a private dinner in February, which was hosted by Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin at his Los Angeles home.
It was a star-studded event with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner, TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio and David Dobrik in the room.
Stroud explained that he landed on the guest list thanks to fellow rookie, Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young.
“I was with Bryce, we were playing basketball somewhere and I asked, ‘What you doing? and he was saying he was going to this like prison reform dinner and Kim Kardashian was hosting it,” Stroud, who’s close friends with Young, said. “So I was like, ‘Bro, that’s kind of up my alley. Can you ask if I can come?”
View this post on InstagramA post shared by CJ Stroud (@cj7stroud)
So, Young made a call to Rubin, who was ecstatic for Stroud to attend.
“He’s a spectacular kid,” Rubin, a co-chair of REFORM Alliance, told The Post. “I knew it from as soon as I saw him, that he’d be, you know, he’s got all the traits of leadership that you need to be a big time winner.
“And even the way he’s been asking Tom Brady so many questions and wanting to get more input and stay close he wants to get the right people around him to be incredibly successful.
“So he is gonna be a force for decades to come. I consider myself lucky to have him, you know, not only as a business partner and who supports REFORM, but also as a brother and a good friend.”
5(L-R) Fanatics CEO and REFORM Alliance Co-Chair Michael Rubin, Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young and Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud talk at a dinner hosted by Rubin at his home in Los Angeles on behalf of REFORM Alliance in February 2023. REFORM AllianceStroud was selected by the Texans with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The former Ohio State star is a lock for Offensive Rookie of the Year as he has dazzled the league, while putting the Texans in position to make the playoffs.
He set the record for most passing yards in a single game by a rookie with 470 beating the previous record of 433, which had been held by Andrew Luck in a 39-37 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Nov. 5.
Stroud missed two games due to a concussion he sustained in a 30-6 loss to the Jets in Week 14, and the Texans looked liked a different team in his absence.
The rookie returned in Week 17, and lit up the Titans in a 26-3 win over their AFC South rivals.
The Texans are tied with the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars for the top spot in the AFC South with a 9-7 record.
Houston’s road to the playoffs will go trough the Colts in a season finale AFC showdown in Indianapolis on Saturday.
It’s win-or-go home, and the most important game of Stroud’s NFL career.
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