Chris Paul will forever be grateful for what football has allowed him to accomplish on the field. It led to him being a key piece of Tulsa's offensive line, and it led to him being selected by the Washington Commanders in the seventh round.
The opportunities he's had on the field are only part of what Paul loves about the sport, though. It also created plenty of paths for him off of it, and rather than choose just one, he elected to take as many as he could.
That decision not only "maximize" his experience at Tulsa, but it also allowed him to shape the lives of other student-athletes as well as his views on the importance of community service for athletes.
"It's something that is extremely important to me," Paul said. "I didn't know much about the city of Tulsa before I came to Tulsa, but now I feel like I could almost say that I grew up in Tulsa."
By the time he graduated from Tulsa with a degree in computer information systems, Paul was involved in not one but three committees focused on improving the lives of his fellow student-athletes. The list includes the NCAA's Division I Football Oversight Committee; the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee; and the NCAA Board of Governors Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity (CPCDE).
That's a lot to break down, so let's do it one committee at a time. As a member of the CPCDE, Paul contributed to the review of recommendations on Women's Athletics and the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. He and the committee also worked with the Board of Governors on matters that affected the American Athletic Conference.
Among other responsibilities, the Football Oversight Committee is in charge of enhancing the academic and athletic experience of Division I student-athletes. They also supervise procedures for postseason bowls and qualifications as well as selection procedures for the FCS Championship.
As a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Paul advocated to improve the lives of the 7,000 student-athletes in his conference. It's a great personal achievement to acquire that amount of influence, but contributing to the greater cause was always his top priority.
"That was a part of my mission, to not only maximize my college experience, but to just bridge the gap between our football program, our athletics program and the community at large, and to really use my platform for good," Paul said.
Oh, and that's not all that Paul was involved in at Tulsa. He volunteered with several organizations, including the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis, Read Across America, Lift Up America and at the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
In terms of on-campus initiatives, Paul served with University Ambassadors, the Student Association, Future Alumni Council and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
And on top of all that, he helped found and served as the president of The Black Men's Initiative student organization -- a group dedicated to giving Black men on Tulsa's campus spaces to connect with each other.
Paul said he "submerged" himself in the Tulsa community, and while not every athlete needs to be as involved in community service as him, he does encourage others to branch out beyond what they add to their respective teams.
"That's something that's extremely important, because this is the community that supports you," Paul said. "And so you should, you should be involved in it. You should use your platform in a good way."
Paul is understandably a little busy at the moment. He wrapped up rookie minicamp about two weeks ago, and he's about to start OTAs with the rest of the team as he tries to make a case to earn a roster spot.
But once he gets more acclimated to the area, it'll be exciting to see how he immerses himself in the DMV.