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Football: Ex-Cal star Marshawn Lynch encourages kids to ask for help and seek their own path

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 young teens during a motivational speaking appearance Tuesday.

Lynch’s contract status never was a topic of discussion, nor was his decision to skip the Super Bowl champions’ visit to the White House in May.

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.

“I was doing bad things,” he said.

Then things got serious.

“The people I was out there doing bad stuff with, they started dropping off,” Lynch said.

After attending a funeral for a neighborhood friend slain at the age of seven, 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 could not read because it was written in cursive, Lynch asked for help.

“I would have never imagined going to Cal,” he said, proudly adding he achieved better grades at Cal then he did in high school.

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

Johnson talked about how they want to bring in experts in different fields, ranging from finances to computer to architecture, to expose kids to a range of options.

“We want to teach kids about life,” he said. “It’s more than two plus two when you get into real life.”

Talking about their passion for giving back to their community, Lynch said, “Football is our side job.”

The closest Lynch got to talking football was when asked about the Richard Sherman-Michael Crabtree feud.

“I play offense,” he said, deflecting the question with a laugh. “I don’t know nothing about that.”

Jeff Faraudo