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Chris Paul supports AAC 'Powerful Minds' campaign for NFL's 'My Cause, My Cleats' initiative


"Everybody's going through so much in their life, and it's OK to feel those things," Chris Paul said about the mental health initiative he sets to represent during this year's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative.

When the Washington Commanders take on the Miami Dolphins this weekend, you'll notice a spark in the regular uniform look on the field. Each player can represent a cause that's important to them and represent it on their cleats. Paul, an offensive guard drafted in 2022, has prioritized student-athlete mental health and has chosen to represent the American Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's (SAAC) Powerful Minds campaign.

"This was put together in 2015 by the conference's student-athlete advisory committee," Paul said. "It's a mental health initiative to end the stigma around athletes' mental health."

Bringing more attention to the mental health of student-athletes is something Paul has valued throughout college and now continues to prioritize during his career in the NFL.

"I think it's really important, especially for someone like me, who has got a lot going on," Paul said. "A lot of times, it's not talked about enough, and as a man you're told to 'man up.' Everybody feels those things, which makes it so important to have those conversations, even if it's not always easy."

Paul served on the NCAA's Division I Football Oversight Committee as a SAAC representative for 2021. Paul also served as the American Athletic Conference's representative to the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and is a member of the NCAA Board of Governors Committee to Promote Cultural Diversity and Equity (CPCDE). And those efforts by Paul led him back to choosing to represent Powerful Minds today.

"Being able to represent this initiative on my cleats is such a big thing," Paul said. "I'll always be involved in Powerful Minds, and I just really look forward to spreading the word."

Paul continues to be inspired by those he met while serving on American Athletic Conference committees, and now, two years into his NFL career, he feels thankful that he can give back.

He cites the former chair of the committee and University of Cincinnati swimmer, Enna Selmanovic, as someone who inspired many people, including himself.

"I really look up to her, and she's the one that introduced me to Powerful Minds," Paul said. "She's done such a wonderful job with it, and truly changes lives, including mine. And so has this initiative."

In the peak business of lives for student and professional athletes, mental health can often be overlooked, as the priority of the player's performance is valued above all. Powerful Minds and Paul's dedication go beyond what happens with an athlete on the field, court or pitch.

Paul's urgency to spread the word and embrace the messaging behind destigmatizing mental health is a message he hopes to extend everywhere this Sunday.

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