(CBSMiami)- The 2020 NFL season was a special one for Miami native Lavonte David as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers not only made the playoffs for the first time in his career, they ripped off four straight wins to take home the second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. David played a big part in that run, leading a defense that held the Chiefs to just nine points in Super Bowl LV. For David, who experienced plenty of ups and downs with the franchise through the first eight years of his career, he says the biggest difference was the attitude and culture brought to the organization first by head coach Bruce Arians and then by quarterback Tom Brady.
“Throughout my years in Tampa, we had players in place, but we never had that winning pedigree that winning culture. It’s something I wanted really bad, guys on the team like Will Gholston, Mike Evans, who played with the Bucs for seven plus years, those guys wanted to win. Bringing in B.A. he had that attitude that we were going to be a winning football team. Things didn’t go our way that year,” David said in an interview with CBS Local’s Ryan Mayer. “Then a remarkable thing happened with Tom Brady coming and just him bringing that winning pedigree to the locker room. We had a locker room full of guys that are winning football players so bringing him in just added on. For us, we just had to raise our standards a little bit more to be able to go out and compete week in and week out. He was able to go out and bring it home for us.”READ MORE: Heat Move Back Into 6th In East, Top Timberwolves 121-112
The Super Bowl ring adds to David’s list of NFL accomplishments including a 1st team All-Pro designation in 2013 and 2nd team honors in 2016 and 2020. As he continues adding to his accolades on the field, David is hoping to leave a lasting impact off the field as well. His foundation, founded in 2018, is continuing to build up the Lavonte Legends scholarships program which awards ten recipients $5,000 that applies over the course of four semesters in college. David knows how difficult navigating the scholarship process and paying for college can be for kids and families and it’s why he wanted to reach back into the Miami community to help out.
“It’s a foundation that’s going to support kids going school who have financial issues not being able to scholarships and things like that. My foundation is going to fund that aspect of their education. For me, it’s very important because I had a different route education wise,” David said. “I went to junior college because I didn’t have the grades. And I wasn’t really able to pay for school until I graduated from junior college and got a scholarship to Nebraska. So I know how difficult it can be for kids who are 18 years old whose families can’t afford to pay for college. Me and my team what we’re going to do is try and help support those kids and help jumpstart what they want to do education wise. It’s something I want to put my heart into.”
The foundation works in the community in a variety of ways and it’s all part of an effort for David to build a lasting name for himself not just on the field but off it as well. He’s working to continue to make his mom, Lynette, who passed away in March of 2016, proud.
“Football speaks for itself, you only have so much you can do while you’re playing football, you only have so many years to play. But you have a lifetime to be a helping hand to someone. You have a lifetime to be kind to someone. You have a lifetime to make an impact on someone’s life,” David said. “So, why not start now? I’m just trying to continue that trend and impact as much as I can because I know God’s looking down, I know my mom’s looking down and I just want to make them proud. I’m just trying to be that light for somebody.”
The 31-year-old linebacker will resume building that legacy on the field in Tampa again this fall, after he signed a two-year contract extension with the team this offseason. The contract extension and foundation are interconnected in his mind as he wants to be a mainstay in his hometown of Miami and also in his NFL home of Tampa.
“One of the main reasons why I did it was building my legacy both off the field but on the field as well in the Tampa Bay community. I’ve been there all nine years of my career and adding two more years with the contract extension. And just understanding that we have something real special. It only last but so long,” David said. “We’re just trying to get as many wins as we can because my first eight years, there weren’t as many. Having all those guys come back, the nucleus of our football team, a lot of those guys came back. Hopefully we all have the same mindset of trying to get more wins and more championships. It’s always going to be a lot of hard work to put in but we’re capable of doing it.”
David wasn’t the only building block of last year’s Super Bowl roster that decided to return. Running back Leonard Fournette, tight end Rob Gronkowski, pass rusher Shaquil Barrett, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and several others all decided to run it back. The Buccaneers will be a contender once more, currently listed behind only the Chiefs as having the best Super Bowl odds next season. David’s hope is to add another championship to his resume but overall, he’s looking to follow in the path of Hall of Fame Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks.MORE NEWS: Stream The Wells Fargo Championship
“I just want to continue to be dominant in my play. Continue to give back to the community in Tampa and continue to be the leader that they expect me to be. I haven’t been voted a seven-time captain for nothing, I must be doing something right. I’m going to keep on doing that, keep on being a light to the younger players that are coming around. Be that extra ear, being somebody who they can talk to outside of football, talk about life. And just continue to be a dominant football player in the Tampa community. I always say I look up to Derrick Brooks and what he did for Tampa on and off the field. He laid the way and I’m just trying to follow that way. I’m very thankful for that organization believing in me and I’m hoping to one day retire as a Buccaneer.”