Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Native the Embodiment of Achievement

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Paterson Native the Embodiment of Achievement

Article excerpt

Vaughn McKoy cried as Eastside student Jenny Gomez discussed the positive impact his book made on her life during a panel discussion a few months ago in Paterson.

Gomez's comments exemplified the type of influence McKoy hoped his autobiography, "Playing Up," would have on young people in his hometown and beyond when he finished it two years ago. McKoy, a former Eastside and Rutgers football player, made it out of Paterson's Christopher Columbus public housing complex to become an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The former federal prosecutor makes it clear, however, that as the youngest of six children raised by a single mom, he didn't survive the challenges he encountered in a drug-infested, violence- ravaged neighborhood on his own.

Much of his motivation for writing his book came from feeling indebted to the coaches, family members, mentors and teachers who helped him become successful. McKoy's mentors included the late Arthur Goldberg, an attorney and business mogul McKoy met while lifting weights one day at Rutgers.

McKoy, 47, stresses the importance of education and mentorship while speaking to middle school and high school students, participants in after-school programs, church groups and incarcerated juveniles.

"I know we have something that's different and that's special," McKoy said. "We can show kids that you can be successful and you can achieve great things, and you don't have to be a professional athlete or an entertainer or a singer or somebody whose name is in lights and people are cheering about.

"You can be a doctor, you can be a lawyer, you can be a teacher, you can be an accountant, you can be an engineer, you can be a reporter. You're more likely to be one of those things, just based upon the numbers. And you have a whole bunch of those people in your community who've been overlooked because somehow we've been blinded by the fame of those other things. But they'll never be able to touch those people. That's why I felt I had to make myself available to them, so they can see there's another way."

McKoy - now managing director/vice president of legal for PSEG Long Island - self-published the 270-page book in July 2013. …

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