GREENSBORO, N.C. -- From the NFL to NASA, a former professional athlete and retired astronaut has one, out of this world story to tell.
Leland Melvin is the only person drafted into the NFL to have flown in space. Melvin always had a love for science and chemistry and eventually turned that into a career at NASA.
"I was an athlete at the University of Richmond and I got a scholarship to play football there. But I love chemistry. My mother gave me this non-OSHA certified chemistry set when I was a kid and I blew up her living room; so I knew I could be a chemist, because I had already done it," said Melvin.
He put his love for chemistry aside for a moment for an opportunity to play in the National Football League. After college, Melvin was drafted to play for the Detroit Lions. A hamstring injury temporarily sidelined his career and he eventually moved to Dallas, Texas to play for the Cowboys. While there, he began working in research at NASA.
That's part of the reason why he chose to name his book, Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Perseverance and Second Chances.
"When I did get into the Astronaut Corp, one of my first training events to do space walk training in the 5 million gallon pool, I lost all my hearing in a training accident. They said I would never fly in space; the doctors told me that," said Melvin. "I want to let people know that if you have people that believe in you, if you believe in yourself, if you have grit and perseverance, then you get second chances. But, there's often times things are not guaranteed," said Melvin. "Through my experiences and my journey, through being deaf and being abused, expulsion and almost being arrested, I did find a way to keep going and not give up and to make it to the stars."
Melvin's traveled on Space Shuttle Atlantis twice to help build the International Space Station and now he's headed to Greensboro to inspire you and the next generation.
Melvin believes in the STEAM method which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. He wrote a young readers edition specifically on the topic.
"It's helps you figure out what is that thing that you're really passionate about. If you can do that and you can do your passion or hobby and get paid for it, then that's the ultimate gig! It's really about unlocking those secrets into what really makes you tick," added Melvin.
The Greensboro Public Library is giving you an opportunity to talk with Melvin about his experiences and his book this Saturday, November 18, 2017. It's part of the city's: One City, One Book program which focuses on the book, Hidden Figures. The popular novel written by Margot Lee Shetterly is also inspired by the NASA program.
You can find copies of Leland Melvin's Book: Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Perseverance and Second Chances at the Greensboro Public Library.
You can also hear the former astronaut and NFL Wide Receiver this Saturday, November 18, 2017 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, call 336-373-3617 or click here.
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