PLEASANTON -- Marshawn Lynch's white Lamborghini was parked well out of sight, but that was about the only thing the Seattle Seahawks running back and former Cal star held back from two dozen teens during a motivational speaking appearance Tuesday.

Lynch and fellow Oakland Tech High grad Josh Johnson, a backup quarterback with the 49ers, sat under the trees on a sunny day outside Pleasanton and encouraged East Bay youngsters to ask for help and seek their own path.

Dressed in a black "Beast Mode" sweat outfit, Lynch, 28, talked comfortably about his own childhood in Oakland, where he could have permanently taken a wrong turn. He explained how he went to Piedmont to steal bicycles and shoplifted from grocery stores as a grammar-school kid. Then things got serious.

After attending a funeral for a neighborhood friend slain at the age of 7, Lynch told himself, "I don't want that to be me."

Still, he struggled in school and tried to hide the fact that he was enrolled in resource classes. Finally, after receiving a recruiting letter from then-Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham that he couldn't read because it was written in cursive, Lynch asked for help.

"I would have never imagined going to Cal," he said.

Lynch and Johnson, whose Fam 1st Family Foundation hopes to open a community center in downtown Oakland within a couple years, devoted 90 minutes trying to convince youngsters they can also aspire to big things.


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The closest Lynch got to talking football was when he was asked about the feud between Seahawks teammate Richard Sherman and 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.

"I play offense," he said, deflecting the question with a laugh. "I don't know nothing about that."

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Seahawks star and former Cal standout Marshawn Lynch told youths how he redirected his life.