Beauty In The Struggle: The Bruce Thompson Story

Bruce Thompson is a name known by many, football fans, people on social media, fashion enthusiasts and even some of the best athletes to come in and out of the NFL know who he is, though it wasn’t easy to get to that point, Thompson even calls it a struggle. 

Thompson as a child

Bruce Thompson was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and was raised into sports. Running track, playing sports like basketball and baseball all helped him improve his athletic ability and excel in the game of football which he started to play at 8 years old.

“It was the start of greatness.” Bruce mentions, “Where I’m from we played a lot of football in the street, we raced pole to pole to see who was the fastest and we were all competitive.” Thompson continues, “One of my friends, Ryan (Wright) actually got me to play football but at the time my mother didn’t want me playing football so I was talking to her a lot about it, kind of talking it into fruition… When my mother ended up signing me up and I started to play, I ended up being a star on the team playing running back, quarterback, linebacker, receiver, defensive line, and anywhere they needed me on the field I was there to make a play.”

Making play after play on the field, Thompson found it easy to fall in love with the game of football but it wasn’t easy to play football in the early stages of Thompson’s career, “It was tough. As a kid I lived in New Orleans but because of hurricane Katrina we had to move to Texas.” Thompson explains, “I learned a lot from the adversity I faced, not even just because of (hurricane) Katrina but everything I battled in my childhood and it really shaped me into who I am today.” 

Thompson training with NFL star and friend Odell Beckham Jr

A part of his learning as a kid came from the game of football, and he credits the game for a lot of what he’s gone through in his life. When talking about the impact football has had on him Bruce comments, “Football has been there my whole life. I’ve played since I was 8 years old, it’s been a good sport as well as the others I’ve played. It helps me get away from trouble and get through tough times. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play in high school even after all that happened (Hurricane Katrina).”

Thompson’s high school highlights

Back to New Orleans from Texas where he had played football and went to school from 6th to 8th grade, Thompson was just getting started. He attended the newly assembled Miller McCoy All-boys High School in New Orleans, Louisiana, and being a part of the first graduate class at the school, Thompson didn’t disappoint. Getting awards in not one, not two but three sports in High School (basketball, track and field, football), putting on a show for not only the school’s students and fans but for scouts as well. “High School football turned my mind-set from ‘grinding for survival’ to ‘grinding to what I can become’. It gave me the opportunity to run on the field with like minded people and be coached by a coach that pushed me to the fullest and because of all of that, what I thought wasn’t capable became capable.” he said. Although he had that mentality built in high school, it doesn’t mean it stayed in high school. Coming out of Miller McCoy Academy Thompson was offered a football scholarship to Langston University, an NAIA school in Langston, Oklahoma, some may remember the school from the stop Chad Ochocinco made there before making his way into the NFL. 

Bruce Thompson at Langston University

At Langston University, Bruce Thompson made a name for himself. He wasn’t given much of an opportunity, but he created opportunities for himself. Thompson was named 2 team all-conference, was given the leadership award on the University’s football team and also worked his way onto the NAIA roster in the NAIA vs Division II senior bowl in the 2016 college football season, “All I knew going into University was that I had to grind for myself, and prove myself. I was at a smaller school so I knew it was going to be tough to make it big but I didn’t let that get to my head.” Thompson mentioned, “That opportunity was hard to get. It wasn’t easy to get there (the senior bowl) but I’m a dreamchaser and I made it there with all my hard work and help from my mentors.” 

Thompson playing at Langston University

The opportunity to play in the senior bowl was one of Thompson’s signs of hard work he says, “It was amazing to be able to showcase my talent in front of pro scouts… I actually got to talk with an Eagles scout that was there and it kept me inspired. I felt one step closer to my dreams being a reality.” 

Having the opportunity to play in front of professional scouts, from Arena football to the NFL Bruce was able to use his experience he had at the NAIA/Division II senior bowl to the best of his ability going into the 2017 NFL Draft. “The draft was a humbling moment for me. Not getting drafted just gave me more motivation.” 

Thompson with his mother following a game at Langston University

There were 32 wide receivers taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, Bruce Thompson was not a single one of them but he was looked at by multiple teams including his hometown team, the New Orleans Saints. “I grew up watching them.” Thompson said, “Seeing Brees and the Saints winning the Super Bowl as a kid and then having the chance to play for them, it was just a dream come true.” A dream came true, but it didn’t just come to Thompson, “By Sean Payton being my receivers coach at the Manning Camp, I had a moment where I felt like I was already playing for him. His words of encouragement meant a lot to me and I soaked it up like a sponge.” 

Fighting for a spot on the Saints roster, Bruce Thompson was able to shine light on the hard work that he and his support circle put in to make it that far, and even though he didn’t make the cuts Thompson was able to spread word about his name and visions while also inspiring kids around the world, giving them hope. Thompson tells me, “It’s not over… I’m a dream-chaser, and I’m still chasing. The opportunity with the Saints was life changing coming from where I come from. Looking back at it all, I’ve improved so much as a player but also as a person. Mentally I’m stronger and  always working on consistency. It’s only a matter of time before I get another opportunity.” 

Bruce Thompson with Saints future Hall-Of Fame quarterback Drew Brees

“I want to make my way back into the NFL and I’m doing everything I possibly can to do so. I train every day, catch 500 balls a day and on top of that I keep my same mindset to be great.” 

The mindset installed by Bruce Thompson, to be great has not only been seen by those closest to him but as well as thousands of social media followers that Thompson has built, and he’s really built a platform from just posting his every day events, “It’s cool that I’ve been able to share my vision, to tell everyone about my vision and show them what I’m all about and get the love I get. I’m very thankful for all of the support people have given me because it’s only giving me more motivation to work harder.”

A part of what he posts on his social media pages is the training he does with NFL and CFL stars. Scrolling through instagram or twitter you may find yourself watching some workout footage of NFL stars like Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr, Lamar Jackson just to see what they are doing in their off-seasons to stay ready, well they all have to train with people and several NFL athletes have chosen to be around Bruce throughout the NFL off-season to feed off his powerful energy. When talking about the athletes he trains with and his experiences doing so Bruce comments, “It’s been great. I’ve learnt a lot from all of these guys. Spending time with guys like Odell (Beckham Jr.), Jarvis (Landry), (Nkeal) Harry, and catching passes from Deshaun Watson learning about his leadership, throwing with Jameis Winston before playing with the Saints, being with Joe Burrow, seeing how Tyrod Taylor moves out of the pocket, learning from Drew Brees and even being with Lamar Jackson just chilling after the Manning camp and just seeing how he is as a person, learning from his strategies, they’re all great examples of how surrounding yourself by such successful people can motivate you and get you better.”

Not only does Thompson run routes with these NFL stars on the odd weekend in the off-season or catch passes from a couple quarterbacks when he can but to be at where he is now, he’s gotten help by several different personal trainers as well as retired athletes. Posted openly on his social media is the time he spends with Nike trainer Justin Allen and former NFL receivers Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh, “They’ve all been getting me ready to play in the league. I remember when I first got to Langston University the coaches asked me what I wanted to do when I was done with the four years there, and I told them I’d go to the league. These trainers, these mentors are all that are going to help me get there.” Thompson had said, “When I met with Ochocinco, he noticed what I was doing to get to where I want to be and seeing what he accomplished in his own career I asked him all about the receiver position and just learning from one of the best it was really cool and now talking to him every once and awhile, I truly think he’s helped me get better and it’s been good learning from him.”

As Thompson continues to improve on the field as a football player and keeps his mindset to one day be a star receiver in the NFL, he is also growing off the field in many ways. On many occasions, because of the work he does on and off the field Bruce Thompson has been “viral” on social media. He’s built a following of nearly 70 thousand (on all platforms combined) where his football talents and ambitions have led to something much larger than he expected when he first posted a few workout videos. “It all started from just filming a couple workouts and posting them. I’ve done a few one handed catches or recreated some that other guys have done in games after I’m done my main training and even post a few catches every once and awhile. It’s really been amazing to see how far my following on instagram and social media has gotten.” Bruce Thompson enjoyingly commented, “I’ve really become a role model for a lot of kids and it’s very humbling. I grew up not having a lot of role models, I’m from New Orleans Orleans, you get motivated by seeing how you don’t want to live, so you have to get it out of the mud. I was just one of the many blessed ones. That’s why I love giving back.” Having the following he’s built and the loyal fan base which looks up to Thompson, he’s been able to build a separate platform outside of football. It’s based off of the quote he lives by, “For anyone close to me, and for anyone that knows me as a person or football player they know I’ve had a lot of adversity, but even though I’ve had adversity, I have never let it get to my head. I’ve always gotten through the struggle and look for the beauty in it. I live by a small quote, ‘The Beauty In The Struggle’ which represents my life and the background I have in football and in life. I’ve gone through the hard times, battling for recognition and a fair chance and now I’m at the beauty stage of my life where I’m very close to an opportunity to play professional football and seeing what I’ve accomplished outside of football inspires me daily. I’m my own motivation.” 

Bruce Thompson wearing his “Beauty In The Struggle” shirt

The quote, “The Beauty In the Struggle” has been placed onto several hoodies, t-shirts as well as long sleeve shirts that Thompson has modeled in and sold on the internet. Something he’s helped get done with other companies and felt the need to do it on his own as well. When asked about his clothing brand and his modelling career which he’s built off the field he comments, “It’s always been something fun to do. Some of my friends have started clothing brands and all sorts of companies which at the start I just posted pictures of me rocking, or I just spent time in my closet finding something that matches my fashion style then posting it, and then I started getting views on my page, companies started to send me their stuff and it’s now gotten to a point where I’m modelling for some of my favorite brands.”  Looking at some of the brands Thomspon has modeled for, and gotten clothing from, there’s a lot of them. Some of his favorites, Fashion Nova Men, Cross Colors, SprayGround, Ethika, and even on the football side he’s helped model for Xenith. 

Though he has indeed started a whole career outside of football, as an influencer on social media, a clothing brand owner and even a fashion model, Bruce Thompson is still very much a football player and it’s only a matter of time that he gets signed and plays on the professional stage, “This is just the beginning.” Thompson preaches, “I’m working on a lot, both on and off the field but I’m only getting started with my career and I am continuing to strive to get better to prove that I am who I say I am and make everyone around me proud especially my mother.”

This is just the beginning. 

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