Takkarist McKinley's draft by the Atlanta Falcons lifts Richmond acquaintances

RICHMOND (KTVU) -- As school let out Friday at John F. Kennedy High School, there were smiles on the faces of many student knowing Takkarist McKinley -- one of their own -- had made it to the NFL.

"He wasn't the best student (but) he really had a great personality," said Phillip Johnson, his former principal at Kennedy High. "But he didn't let anything hold him back."

McKinley, known as Takk, was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday during the 2017 NFL Draft. He was the draft's 26th pick.

The Falcons' selection pleased many in Richmond.

"It’s a great day to be an Eagle," said Kennedy coach George Jackson Jr. "It’s a great day to be from this city."

Leonard Waldon said he played alongside Takk while they were students at Kennedy.

"This is big for me," he said. "I cried. My eyes were stuck on the TV."

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McKinley acknowledges his humble roots in the moments after he was selected during the televised event.

"I'm doing it for Richmond, I'm doing it for Oakland and I hope I make everybody proud," McKinley said during his post-draft speech.

After he was drafted by the Falcons, he brought a picture of his grandmother with him to the stage. She raised him and he recalled how he told her on her death bed how he would get out of Richmond and make it big.

"I made that promise to her and 30 seconds later she passed away," he said. "This is who I do it for."

Some young Richmond student athletes take pride in McKinley, saying he has inspired them to strive for their own dreams. After leaving Kennedy and before going to UCLA, McKinley played at Contra Costa College.

"It gives me something to look forward to (and) gives me motivation every day," said Amari Mount, McKinley's former college teammate.

"Every conversation we've had since we got here (today) has been 'Did you see what Takk did?" Jackson said. "Now the question is who's next and everybody's raising their hand."

By KTVU reporter Paul Chambers.

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