NFL star Tahir Whitehead honored in his hometown of Newark

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NEWARK -

NFL star Tahir Whitehead received special honors Friday from his home town of Newark.

Whitehead, 27, was given the key to the city and his alma mater, West Side High School, retired his jersey.

"Nothing's ever gonna ever be given to you in this world. You gotta go out there and you gotta make it happen,” Whitehead told students at West Side.

Whitehead echoed the words that his mother once told him. Quadira Whitehead raised five children on her own in Newark’s West Ward. She had Tahir when she was a teenager.

"I can't think of a word that can express how happy and amazed I am of him and to be his mother,” she says.

Whitehead says that he will never forget where he came from, despite his stardom.

“I’ll never forget the people that helped me,” he says.

One of those people is Brian Logan, who coached Whitehead in high school.

"Tahir was a leader. Everything he did, the guys on the team followed,” Logan says.

Whitehead says that he wasn’t always sure that his dreams of playing in the NFL would come true. His only scholarship offer was to Temple University. But he was drafted in the fifth round by the Detroit Lions in 2012.

He says that he has been an underdog for most of his life.

“I just take on that Newark attitude, like, ‘you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to turn around and I’m going to show you I can,’” he says.

Whitehead signed a three-year deal for $18 million with the Oakland Raiders, just last week.

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