That's how long it's been since Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle and member of the inaugural 1960 Los Angeles Chargers team, Ron Mix, last stepped foot on the Hawthorne High School campus in El Segundo.
Last Thursday, as part of the Chargers' continuing partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Heart of a Hall of Famer" program, Mix made a special visit back to his alma mater for the first time since graduating in 1956 to share some of his wisdom with current Hawthorne High School football players.
"This whole (career) really started here at Hawthorne High School," Mix said. "It was very important for those who are in a position to help give guidance to people and take advantage of it. It's important that we try to make this a better place to put kids on the right path."
Put on by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the program gives students a first-hand opportunity to learn about what it takes to achieve success on and off the field from current and former heroes of the game. Most recently, the Bolts hosted the event at Hoag Performance Center with HOF center Dermontti Dawson and Chargers center, Mike Pouncey.
Before sitting down to chat with the students, Mix took a tour of the campus he used to call home with the school principal. While a lot had obviously changed since his time as a Hawthorne Cougar, two things had remained constant; the railroad tracks that run through the middle of Hawthorne's campus, and the football field where Mix first began his career journey.
After his tour, Mix spoke with the Hawthorne football team about a variety of topics like respecting others, staying committed to your goals and surrounding yourself with others who follow those same values. Mix, who earned a Juris Doctor degree, also discussed the importance of education. Football may not last forever, but an education will. He ended the program to a standing ovation and signed a few Chargers mini helmets for players on the team with the highest GPAs.
"It's important that they understand that if they have the proper character, if they have the proper character traits of being loyal, responsible and hard workers, that they can improve the situation for themselves and their family. Football is a great vehicle for that."
The Chargers continued the "Heart of a Hall of Famer" series at Hawthorne High School where NFL Hall of Fame tackle Ron Mix discussed the Pro Football Hall of Fame's values of: community, integrity, courage, respect, and excellence.