‘Can’t stop smiling’

From foster care to football scholarship, a gridiron phenom sets her sights on the NFL

Toni Harris (NBC News/YouTube)

Pioneering football player Toni Harris, a free safety and honors student at East Los Angeles College, made history on Tuesday by becoming the first woman playing a skilled position to be given a football scholarship. Harris, who was also the first woman football player ever to play for East L.A. College and to appear in a Super Bowl advertisement, is now set to play safety on a full scholarship at Central Methodist University in Missouri. She had scholarship offers from six schools to choose from.

“My biggest pet peeve is people telling me that I can’t. So I have to prove them wrong,” Harris told NBC News. A Detroit native, Harris grew up in foster care and survived a bout with ovarian cancer at age 18. She was the first person in her family to graduate high school and go to college. And even when boys expressed anger about having a girl on the team, she said she found ways to persevere anyway.

“As a kid, when I was in Little League I got kicked off (the team),” she recalled. “When I was In middle school I got kicked off … I don’t let anything stop me. I don’t take no for an answer.”

After appearing in a Super Bowl ad for Toyota and winning scholarship offers from 6 schools, Harris continues to set ambitious goals for herself.

“My dream moving forward is to become the first female NFL player,” she said. “Sorry, I can’t stop smiling when I say that.”

Asked why she couldn’t stop smiling, she laughed in response.

“It makes my heart happy,” she said.

Watch Harris’s interview with NBC News below.

Read the full story at NBC News.

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