Class of 2023
Additional career statistics: Interceptions: 3-44, 1 TD; fumble recovery for TD: 2.
Full name: DeMarcus Omar Ware
Birthdate: July 31, 1982
Birthplace: Auburn, Alabama
High school: Auburn (Alabama)
Pro career: 13 seasons, 184 games.
Drafted: First round (11th overall) in 2005 by Dallas Cowboys
Uniform number: 94
No matter what our circumstances, we made a choice and worked to be great. I was blinded by my environment as a child domestic violence, drugs, gangs. But my surroundings taught me how to be relentless, limitless, and resilient.
The reality is you are a product of your own thinking, your own mind, and you must learn how to persevere.
I learned how to dream big by watching you, Ma. Somehow, you always managed to tuck me in at 2 a.m. in the morning, after working three jobs, shielding me from worrying.
While I knew I wasn't going to see you before I went to school in the morning, I knew I would see you every single day, working in the school cafeteria, in elementary school, middle school and even high school. We'd always exchange that big smile that Grandma gave us.
You showed me how to serve and smile through anything.
When you don't have any other choice, you just have to do it. You didn't miss a day, and sis and I didn't miss a meal. What we ate at school, you brought home for dinner.
Sis, remember those pizzas, those box pizzas, those cinnamon rolls? And, man, didn't we love those curly fries? They were so good.
You know, when your village is always there for you, you never feel lacking. I saw my mom during the day, and I saw my auntie after school because she drove the bus. Let me tell y'all something: Them Wares were everywhere.
Every day she dropped me off at the community center to see my granddad. I couldn't wait. Those cool bumper pool tables, ping pong, air hockey and that one door to the left where I could hear my granddad buffing the floors or hear those big janitor keys clanking. When I heard them, I knew that I was safe.
Granddad, you are the epitome of hard work. You are the family patriarch. You bring us all together and when you speak, we listen. All my aunts, uncles, cousins, y'all know exactly what I'm talking about. So, I'm happy to have my family here today.
Statistics supposedly tell us that if you come from a single parent home, you're probably not going to graduate high school or go to college, or three times more likely you're going to live in poverty. And if you live in a Black community, that's even tougher.
But not my community.
I want to thank Osi Umenyiora, Brandon Hall and all my high school teammates for using your voices to help me get my scholarship to Troy University, the only college scholarship I got that was offered to me.
Fellas, I really thank y'all for bringing me into the fold.
But often there's something in our lives that pushes us to make a real change. For me, that one single frightening moment was when I was in college.
I was attending a parking lot party when I was visiting home. My uncle was in his car and, without warning, was knocked across the head with a gun. And a knife dropped to the ground, and I picked it up. And when I looked up, all I can see was the potential shooter's eyes and a gun barrel pressed against my head.
All I heard was my family say, "Don't kill him.”
There was a eerie silence, after which I simply said, "This isn't me," and I dropped the knife. At that moment, I knew God gave me a second chance, and I had to do something with it.
That was my turning point. The memory of those parking lot lights and the sounds of those screams "Don't kill him" became the fire that empowered me. You can't imagine how many years that night echoed in my head.
When I trained, I was motivated by the memories of those parking lot lights. And when I ran onto the field and the crowd cheered, those memories of those screams began to fade. Every sack I made helped to ease the memory of that frightful night and replaced it with positive energy.
College makes you grow up, doesn't it?
I'm proud to be a Troy Trojan. I had an amazing college family in Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Larry Blakeney, Miss Judy, Richard Shaughnessy, my Troy teammates and many others. I learned the value of building relationships.
Chris Cole, remember those crazy summer jobs? Picking those eggs for 25 cents in a chicken coop, cutting grass four foot tall with a push lawnmower, or better yet, leaving a Troy football game early to hightail it home to sell Cokes at an Auburn game.
Driving down those dark country roads with no gas, no gas station or a place to stop. I'd call you, Chris, to let you know that I made it home safe.
Proud to tell you today: I made it and thank you.
All my hard work in Troy brought me to this. Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization calling me on my Nokia flip phone.
Jerry, where you at? I want to thank you for taking a chance on me. You gave me the opportunity to play in two of the greatest stadiums with the most amplified crowds that helped silence the pain of my past.
Those places became my new church, every Sunday. I told the Lord: If You give me six days to prepare, I'm going to let You take over on the seventh to let people know that You are a bad mama jama and can do all things.
But even God knows I didn't do it alone. Every day I arrived at work, I can hear the "Ring of Fire" blasting in the training room, which meant Tony Romo was in the building.
In the weight room, I'd hear the clinking of Larry Allen bench pressing 500 pounds just to warm up.
On the field, lining up against Jason Witten, I was reminded just how important it was to be consistent every day, every play.
And when I had to turn up, all I had to do is look at my boy Bradie James because he truly had the eye of the tiger.
Players go through a lot together. We watch each other grow as men, husbands, and fathers. We build bonds that last forever. Football made us tough enough to get through anything that most people can't even fathom, especially loss.
God can turn any situation around for His good and His glory. It's not about us. Bowen, Hatch, Spence, I thank God for the way football bonded us. May He always be our glue.
You know, the most frequently asked question I got as a Dallas Cowboy was, "Why are you always smiling?"
I smile because you guys were the highlight of my day, and you helped me get through life outside of football. I was a sponge that absorbed everything, and I smile. And now I look out, and I see you guys smiling. What a wonderful feeling.
You chose me to be your captain, and I'm forever humbled by it. But even the captain lights can get dim. Sometimes it just needs to shine somewhere else, and that was Denver, Colorado.
You see, Dallas taught me how to be the best in class leader because I was surrounded by so many of them. So, when I went to Denver, I had a huge opportunity to once again let that light shine, that light and leadership shine.
It started with a call from John Elway, the Bowlen family, and Peyton Manning. I remember that call. You said, "Let's go win this thing." And we did it, brother.
Whether it was Miller Time with Von or if I had to call in a no-fly zone, that Orange Crush spirit helped bring home Super Bowl 50.
My teammates that year were unstoppable, and I'm so proud to be part of that legacy. As we always said, iron sharpens iron and another man sharpens another.
I thank God and I think it's just so good that for the memories that He gives us because we lost some guys too soon Demaryius Thomas, Ronnie Hillman, Marion Barber. I held some seats in my heart for you guys here today. Keep resting in peace, fellas.
Time won't allow me to thank everybody, but if you're here today or watching on television, I thank you. To all my coaches from high school, college, and the NFL, thank you for believing in me, pouring into me or redirecting me to something I couldn't see in myself.
I thank the Hall of Fame and all the branches that flow from them. This week doesn't happen without long meetings, teamwork, sleepless nights and sacrifice. Thank you for my new platform and welcoming my family and I into our forever home in Canton.
This might sound crazy, but the NFL taught me how to forgive. First, I forgave myself, and then I forgave my dad.
Dad, all the times I didn't understand why you weren't there, it doesn't matter. You're here now. I've learned that guilt rots in a person and forgiveness heals. How can I expect God to forgive me if I don't forgive you?
You once said two simple words to me: "I'm sorry." I'm not sure if I responded, but I'm telling you now, on the biggest platform of my life, I forgive you.
God put two guardians on this earth to help me, two precious people, Travis and Randi. I think you guys have been with me since day one. This moment is yours, too.
My heart is now anchored in my family. My wife, Angela, and my kids Marley, DeMarcus Jr. and MJ, I love you.
Angela, God's country led me to you. And, girl, when I saw you, I knew you were my wife.
And to my kids, I played through my career for you and I retired for you. Everything I do is either in obedience to God or our family.
My family has blended, and just like it took a village to raise me, I continue to need that village for my own family. Thank you for being my support and motivation. Love y'all.
The light that shines on my village reflects all the people who have watched over me. My story is one of gratitude, forgiveness, brotherhood, and humility. It could have ended up a different way, but I made a choice to work hard and accept God's will.
An enshrinement by definition is to cherish the sacred. I cherish every trial and tribulation that has gotten me here. I am His sacred work. This is and has been God's work through me. May He always do sacred work through me but also through you.
Thank you, and God bless.