PLYMOUTH – Antonio Dixon was a soft-spoken giant of a defensive lineman trying to make it to big-time college football when he attended Milford Academy in New Berlin.
He spent a year at Milford in 2004 before moving on to play Division One ball for the Miami Hurricanes. Dixon was quiet young man when The Evening Sun interviewed him six years ago, and he had a good reason to use as few words as possible during his interview. Dixon’s struggles have since been well documented in the Florida media. That Dixon has now ascended to play in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles makes his story one of the most inspiring triumphs among Milford Academy graduates.
Growing up in a poor family, Dixon spent time in six homeless shelters living in Miami and Atlanta. His father was in prison for drug trafficking, and his mother abused drugs for a period of two years. During his mother’s drug use, Dixon and his siblings were pulled from their mother’s home to live in foster care.
It was a rough start to the young Dixon’s life. Add to it his issues with dyslexia and a pervasive stuttering problem. He was unable to read until the sixth grade, and was expelled from school two years later for fighting and belligerent behavior.
When Dixon returned to school as a freshman in high school, he found football and his life turned for the better. As a senior, he was ranked among the best college lineman prospects in Florida, but needed to get his grades up. He spent a year at Milford Academy honing his skills as a football player and gaining the tools to become a good student.
Through hard work and perseverance, he graduated from Miami with a degree in Liberal Arts. Not only that, he was among five other students in the nation to win the Wilma Rudolph Student Athlete Acheivement Award. The award is given annually to collegiate athletes who overcome great personal adversity to achieve academic success.
“College was tough,” Dixon said, who said it was an eye-opening the first three months, especially just getting into proper football shape. “I used to go to study hall sometimes 18 hours a week. Other people were going eight or 10 hours, but they had me on this ridiculous schedule. Seniors, they don’t have to go to study hall, and I was the only senior there. It was worth it; I was proud of graduating.”
Dixon proceeded through his four years, and while he was reaching the pinnacle of his academic life, he had a subpar senior season playing for the Hurricanes. “I didn’t have a good year and they weren’t playing me much,” Dixon said...