Takkarist McKinley fulfilled his promise.
The former UCLA defensive end carried a framed photograph of his late grandmother Myrtle Collins with him on stage at the NFL Draft in Philadelphia on Thursday night after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to take him 26th overall.
McKinley, known for the undying motor and electric energy that led him to a team-high 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks last year, couldn’t contain his emotions moments after hearing his name called.
“This is who I’m doing it for,” McKinley exclaimed on NFL Network while holding the photo of Collins, who passed away in 2011. “I made a promise to her and I stuck to it. I told her before she passed away that I was going to live my dream. I was going to go D-I, I was going to get out of Richmond, I was going to get out of Oakland, I was going to go to the NFL. Thirty seconds later, she passed away.
“This means (expletive) everything,” he continued on the live broadcast. Realizing his mistake, McKinley added “fine me later.”
With a deep breath, still clutching the photo of Collins, McKinley collected his emotions and finished: “We did it. I love you, Grandma. It’s only the beginning.”
McKinley is UCLA’s fourth first-round draft pick in the past five years.
His teammates and coaches at UCLA posted their congratulations on Twitter:
@takk has the most passion in this draft no debate.
— Scott Quessenberry (@ScootsyQ) April 28, 2017
So much hard work by Takk went into this one card! pic.twitter.com/NOOFEmoiyS
— Tom Bradley (@TomScrapBradley) April 28, 2017