On NFL Draft Day many college football players are nervously awaiting the opportunity to play for the big league. Football fans will get a sense of what’s in store for their team this year and Fantasy Football enthusiasts will start scouting for the most promising picks of the season. In honor of that experience, we share the story of cornerback, Mackensie Alexander, whose accomplishments on the field are just as remarkable as his story.
Alexander is the son of two Haitian immigrants, Marie and Jean Alexandre, who came to America seeking economic opportunities that their home country could not offer. Although both from Haiti, Alexander’s parents met in the United States, while working in Immokalee’s tomato fields. Immokalee is the hub of Florida’s agriculture industry and many migrant families work in its fields to produce a substantial portion of America’s fresh fruits and vegetables—roughly 90 percent of the nation’s tomatoes are harvested here during the winter months.
Alexander and his twin brother, Mackenro, were born on November 12, 1993, in Naples, Florida. Although their parents speak little English, the twins grew up speaking both English and Haitian Creole. The Alexandres taught their children that the road to success requires hard work and Alexander says he owes his success on the field to his parents. During an emotional induction ceremony, Alexander spoke about a commitment he made to his mother, “I made a pledge to myself: I don’t care what it takes, my momma will never have to work another day of her life. … The problem is with some dreams, the dream’s only about you. If your dream ain’t bigger than you, there’s a problem with your dream.”
People would work. Mackensie would work harder.
It was Alexander’s discipline, not necessarily his talent, which first got him noticed by Jerrod Ackley, his high school football coach. Although Alexander was perhaps not as physically gifted as his twin brother or his teammates, Ackley recognized his hard work ethic immediately. In an interview with The Post and Courier, Ackley said “Mackensie would go out in the yard beside his house and perfect his footwork until well after sundown. He’d even do his own drills after games on Friday nights… People would work. Mackensie would work harder.”
Today, Alexander is ranked the fourth-best prospect in the country by ESPN and referred to as “one of the most highly sought-after recruits in Clemson history” on the official NFL website. Although we cannot be certain what team will recruit Alexander for the upcoming season, we do know that the struggles of his immigrant parents have helped shape his identity as a football player. In his words, “I was born in this country, and I’m blessed to be here, and I’m thankful to be able to play this sport. But I put the work in because of my parents. They’ve done this all their lives.“