These days, life is pretty good for San Francisco 49ers’ defensive end Quinton Dial. He’s playing the sport he loves, and he is the proud father of his toddler son Tatum. But Dial’s life wasn’t always as full and fortunate. His mother passed away when he was 11 and his father was, at times, unable to take care of him financially.
“There was, once upon a time, where my pops, he really wasn’t there a whole lot for me,” said Dial. “Now I have a son, and I gotta make sure I’m there for him as much as possible, even though I’m working crazy amount of hours everyday. That just makes me want to get involved that much more with my son and the community because I know there’s guys, fathers out there, that really don’t want anything to do with their kids. There’s always that one kid that’s just wanting a father figure to say, ‘Great job.’ That’s all a kid really wants to hear is great job from a father figure. I want to be that for them.”
At 16, Dial’s high school football coach told him he was going to play football for a long time, and he was right. Dial attended the University of Alabama and was later drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL draft by the Niners.
Dial, who knows not everyone is so lucky, started QDKids in 2014. The Foundation’s mission, according to its website, is “…to show love and support to underprivileged kids today so they will have the best opportunity to be our leaders of tomorrow.”
“Well growing up the way I did…barely making ends meet, it really inspired me, because now I’m in a position where I’m able to help people that’s living in poverty and barely making ends meet,” said Dial. “I try to take a little stress of their plate.”
Since its inception, the Foundation has gone through changes to do even more to help underserved children.
“At first I just wanted to help kids, but looking at the bigger schemes of things…instead of just helping kids you can help the whole family” said Dial. “Because it helps a village to raise a home, it takes a village to raise a kid so that’s pretty much the reason why I did that.”
Most important to Dial is giving kids and families opportunities to participate in various activities that will keep kids off safe and off the streets.
“I’m really stressing the kids that are at risk in the low income areas,” said Dial. “…The main goal of my foundation is to do whatever I gotta do to make sure these kids are off the streets and don’t get involved in bad activities…[W]hatever I gotta do to do that, I’m gonna do it.”
As the Foundation evolves, specific programs are still being developed, but Dial has some ideas of what he wants to see over the next few months.
“In the springtime, we may host some fun events once a week, read for [kids]and take [kids]bowling on a Friday night, taking [kids]to a movie night one night…Just keep them busy, maybe have them over to my house and do a game night…[K]eep it fun and keep them involved and let them know that you’re not in this by yourself and there’s people out there that really care about you.”
Dial had a mentor named Paul Denham that made sure QD knew there was someone who really cared about him.
“I remember those times when I was so hard on myself and the things weren’t going the way I wanted them to go and he always would tell me, ‘Buddy you’re doing a pretty good job, just keep your head up and keep working hard,’” said Dial. “It was just little things like that I remember. We still talk to this day on daily basis. I always tell him how thankful I am that we came in contact and that we still keep in contact with each other. I’m just so thankful for that relationship that we have.”
That relationship and life experience has taught Dial well.
“If I meet a person that I’ve never met before I always try and conduct myself as if my mom was standing there,” said Dial. “…Be respectful despite the situation. Even if it’s a fan criticizing me or if it’s a fan praising me…I always try and conduct myself in a professional manner, you know ‘yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir’ those types of things I always live by. Something I was taught from a young age.”
As an organization, the 49ers are committed to giving back and doing a lot of great work in the community. That spirit and philosophy has extended to a number of players, and it’s great to see Dial continue to carry on the tradition. Make sure to keep up with QD’s kids as it continues to evolve and create more and more opportunities for kids and their families. Dial definitely makes me proud to say, Go Niners!