RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame will induct its newest class on Friday, July 23 at the Raleigh Convention Center. There are 11 inductees in the 2021 class, including Fayetteville's own Donnell Woolford, who credits his father's military background for his success.
A two-time all-American at Clemson, a first-round NFL draft pick, and a pro-bowler, Woolford is now adding another name to the list: North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer.
"This is the sweetest one of them all," he said. "I grew up here, people know me, they know my name and hopefully I made them proud."
Donnell was three-sport star athlete at Douglas Byrd High School in Fayetteville, playing football, basketball and track. He said his success is due in part to his parents and high school football coach Bob Paroli.
"I had to walk a straight line," Woolford said. "My dad was a drill sergeant in the military in Fort Bragg 82nd Airbone. I had to walk a straight line always. Go to school, go to practice. Back home to a drill sergeant and a mother, straight line. I didn't want to disappoint them and I always wanted to be successful, work hard and it brought me to this point in my life."
Donnell became one of the best cornerbacks in school history at Clemson and then was selected by the Chicago Bears as the 11th pick overall in 1989. He started every game for the Bears from 1989-1996 before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He still ranks fourth in Bears history with 32 career interceptions.
"I started as a little pee-wee in Germany when we were stationed in Germany and worked hard and had a lot of support," Woolford said. "One day I got a phone call from Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears telling me that they wanted to draft me in the first round 11 pick overall. I knew then that I had worked hard and my dream had come true and I was excited about it and I was able to do stuff for my family and friends."
Woolford said he's still reaching for the sky and giving back to the next generation, helping them to achieve their dreams.