Big Dream

Before Israel Idonije was big enough to fit into the shoulder pads and helmet that would be his NFL uniform, he dreamed of superheroes and star athletes—and how he could be one.

To achieve his dream, Idonije determined what skills he brought to the game and built his life’s playbook around those skills. He focused on letting his actions and decisions define him.

Even though he wasn’t invited to the 2003 NFL scouting event, Idonije went anyway and handed out VHS tapes demonstrating his previous football experience. His perseverance paid off, and he was picked up by the Cleveland Browns as a free agent.

He was signed in late 2003 by the Chicago Bears—a team he would play on for most of his 11-year NFL career. In 2007, Idonije got to live out the dream of many kids when the Bears played Superbowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts. From a kid who looked up to NFL players to the player young dreamers looked up to, Idonije had built his athletic dreams into a reality.

Knowing that NFL careers were short-lived, Idonije knew he needed to build for his life after football. He opened a new chapter in his life’s playbook, this time focusing on another childhood love: superheroes. He started ATHLiTACOMiCS to bring the superheroes in his head to life. He produced The Protector series, which focuses on athletes with special abilities—like strength and speed—that become “super” when trouble arises.

Like the characters in his comics, Idonije uses his abilities to help others. He founded iF Charities—previously the Israel Idonije Foundation—in 2007 to help improve the social and emotional life skills of youth in Chicago and West Africa in hopes of reducing risky behaviors like drug use and bullying. Idonije believes that one of the keys to success is finding a mentor to give advice and support, and he serves as a mentor for many kids.

To teach youth about showing love and compassion toward themselves and others, he created the Dream Kidz Adventures series. The books feature characters with diverse backgrounds and focuses on helping kids learn valuable lessons about confidence and self-love.

In every action he takes, Idonije wants to help kids grow into their dreams because he believes that everyone can become successful in their own way. No dream is too big to Idonije.

We’re honored to welcome Israel Idonije as the Keynote Speaker at the 2020 Hoop Shoot National Finals Awards Banquet on April 18.

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