Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State DB Lawrence White hopes to help solve police brutality in hometown

Criminal justice major has been important voice for Cyclones this summer

Iowa State defensive back Lawrence White, center, runs back an interception intend for Louisiana-Monroe wide receiver Za
Iowa State defensive back Lawrence White, center, runs back an interception intend for Louisiana-Monroe wide receiver Zach Jackson, left, after Iowa State defensive back Anthony Johnson, right, tipped the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Matthew Putney/Associated Press)

AMES — Iowa State safety Lawrence White is from Bakersfield, Calif., home of what in 2015 was labeled the deadliest police force in the nation.

White, like many athletes and coaches during this time of social unrest throughout the nation, has been asked about the topic in interviews.

“Aw man, the world right now is in a crazy spot,” he said on Aug. 28, when asked about the protests after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis from his perspective as a criminal justice major who already has his degree. “My opinion on it is, I’m frustrated and disappointed.

“I told the team this a long time ago, my hometown, we have the deadliest police force in America. I’m used to these situations and this topic.”

Read the line again.

“I’m used to these situations (police killings) and this topic.”

While many Americans are just having their eyes opened to police brutality, White is acclimated to these things. Pause for a moment and imagine growing up around so many police killings that you’ve become used to them.

He became a criminal justice major to try and help change the situation in his hometown.

“I do want to work with the kids from my hometown and the community,” White said. “It’s something I want to help solve and I’m going to do everything in my power to fix this situation.”

White, a senior, has been a productive player for Iowa State. He got his first start as a freshman against Memphis in the 2017 Liberty Bowl and has been a key piece in Iowa State’s defense ever since. He led the team in interceptions last season and was second on the team in tackles.

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Coach Matt Campbell knows White is a special player but Campbell made a point to show just how special White is as a person.

“My greatest joy and pride about Lawrence White is, yes, he’s a guy that’s played a lot of football for us, yes, he’s a guy that’s grown every year here as a football player but we’re talking about a young man that’s been through so much during his time here at Iowa State,” Campbell said. “Lawrence is a young man that’s dealt with some really challenging times early in his career here.

“He has an amazing mother, an amazing sister at home. Their family went through some tough, uncertain and trying times early in his career here. Lawrence is a young man that’s continued to overcome hard and overcome tough and trying times.

“What value that gives a young man like Lawrence is when you get to the end of your career, is the respect that he has from his coaches, from his teammates — not just his position group but everyone within our walls. When Lawrence White speaks, everybody listens. When Lawrence White speaks, it comes from a really special place because he’s a young man that’s battled tough and trying times — he’s battled good times and he’s battled tough times — and he’s come out better because of everything he’s gone through.”

Campbell has stressed the importance of having open and honest conversations this summer.

White has been an integral part in those conversations.

“I have to give thanks to coach Campbell because he always lets us voice our opinions,” White said. “He let us have open dialogue when the George Floyd situation happened and that was very beneficial for our football program and the players. We were able to get an understanding of where certain players are coming from. We really grew tremendously from that.”

Campbell said White is an embodiment of what he wants the Iowa State football program to be.

“Lawrence gives our program so much,” Campbell said. “The fact that he’s a three-year starter at our boundary-safety spot, that’s great. But the fact he is who he is and what he stands for and how he empowers the young people and the older people in our program and how he leads, that’s really powerful.

“Those are things that leave a legacy and Lawrence has put himself in a great position to leave a really special legacy here. He’s certainly made our program much better because of who he is and what he stands for.”

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