Marshawn Lynch was born April 22, 1986 in Oakland, California. Growing up in the Oakland area, he excelled in a number of sports, but Marshawn was quickly recognized as a football standout. As a child, Marshawn played in Pop Warner leagues, but he was big for his age, and the coaches decided to put him on the line. One day Marshawn's grandfather told the coaches that he already knew his grandson could block. The coaches picked up on the hint and in the next game they put Marshawn on kick return. What did he do with that opportunity? He ran it back for a touchdown and hasn't looked back since.
Marshawn attended Oakland Technical High School from 2000-2004. He played basketball and ran track in high school but was a national standout in football. In his senior season, Marshawn gained 1,722 rush yards and 23 touchdowns in just eight games. He also amassed 375 yards and an amazing ten touchdowns in the Bulldogs' two postseason games. Marshawn was voted the San Francisco East Bay Player of the Year following his standout season. If that wasn't enough, Marshawn also played defensive back in his high school years where he recorded 20 interceptions in his senior year. At one point he was rated the number one defensive back in the country but he decided to continue at his true position, running back.
Additionally, Marshawn spent time as a quarterback and a wide receiver in high school. He was so talented that there was virtually no position on the field at which he could not contribute. Perhaps even more impressive was the game in which Oakland Tech coaches put Marshawn at defensive end where he forced three fumbles. Marshawn had proven himself as a superior all-around athlete, and coaches from big time college football programs had taken notice.
With options at over a dozen schools, Marshawn accepted a full scholarship to play football at the University of California, Berkeley. As a true freshman in 2004, Marshawn backed up J.J. Arrington and amassed 628 yards and eight rushing touchdowns to go with 147 yards and two receiving touchdowns. When Arrington left in 2005, Marshawn took over as the starting tailback. He totaled 1,246 rush yards and ten rush touchdowns even after missing two games with a hand injury. In the Las Vegas Bowl that culminated Cal's season, he rushed for an astounding 194 yards, three touchdowns and was named MVP in Cal's 35-28 defeat of BYU. In 2006, Marshawn's final year at Cal, he made sure he went out with a bang. He gained 1,356 rushing yards and found the end zone 11 times. He remains the school's second all time rusher with 3,230 career yards. His 17 games of 100 rushing yards or more is a Cal record.
Marshawn was at the center of a rare public spotlight moment when he scored the game winning touchdown in Cal's final regular season game against Washington. After winning the game for his team, Marshawn commandeered the injury cart and “ghost rode” around the field.
Bringing a close to an amazing season and an accomplished college career, Marshawn ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns and was named Co-Offensive Player of the Game versus Texas A&M in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Shortly after his performance in the Holiday Bowl, Marshawn announced his intention to forgo his senior season at Cal and enter the NFL Draft. At the NFL Draft Combine Marshawn was measured at 5'11", weighing 215lbs. His 4.4 seconds in the 40 yard dash assured that he would be a top ten pick on Draft Day.
Marshawn was selected 12th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2007 NFL Draft that April.
Rare for a rookie running back, Marshawn was named the starter to begin the 2007 season and began his pro career where he left off at Cal rushing for 90 yards and scoring his first NFL touchdown against the Denver Broncos. His 90 yards were the most by a Bill's rookie in a season opener.
Marshawn had a number of strong showings following his season opener, but he stepped into the national spotlight with his performance against the Cincinnati Bengals in week nine. Marshawn accumulated an impressive 153 yards on the ground while rushing for his fifth touchdown of the season. Once again, Marshawn demonstrated his incredible athletic versatility by throwing an eight yard touchdown pass to tight end Robert Royal near the end of the fourth quarter. His touchdown pass, besides putting the game on ice and propelling the Bills to a 33-21 victory, was the first touchdown pass by a non-Bills quarterback since 1981. As laid-back as ever, Lynch regarded his pass as elementary saying, "Aw, man, that was high school. Pitch and catch with Robert Royal" (John Wawrow, A.P., 11/4/07).
Another milestone came as Lynch passed the 1,000 yard mark in week 16 against the New York Giants. Marshawn rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown in that game, making him the fourth Bill's rookie (and the first since 1984) to reach the 1,000 yard mark.
Growing up in the Oakland area, it would have been easy to lose a young man to the streets. But Marshawn had a dream play far beyond Pop Warner football. Although Marshawn played on opposing teams from his cousins, they all had a common goal, to take care of their families. They now refer to this idea as "Family First". Marshawn has never been the one to sit in the spotlight, and he has often turned interviews over to his cousins (Virdell Larkins, Josh Johnson and Robert Jordan) throughout his football career. To Marshawn, family really does come first.
Building on an impressive rookie season, Marshawn and the Buffalo Bills look to continue to improve upon their 7-9 2007 season. With such a strong group of teammates, Marshawn is confident that the Bill's will only get better.
With a personality and talent such as Marshawn, the football world can expect the same from him.