News / USA

Professional Athlete Goes From NFL to Judge's Bench

Judge Dwayne Woodruff hands down rulings from the bench in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Juvenile Court
Judge Dwayne Woodruff hands down rulings from the bench in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Juvenile Court

Multimedia

Tala Hadavi

What does a judge have in common with a professional athlete?  Actually, more than you might think.  Both jobs involve a lot of dedication, preparation, and just plain hard work.  Dwayne Woodruff is a man who can testify to that because he's done both.

When he hands down rulings from the bench in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Juvenile Court, Judge Woodruff is an imposing figure, who commands respect.

He was just as imposing - and commanded just as much respect - in his earlier career as a defensive specialist for the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers.

Woodruff says he fell in love with football at an early age.  Back then, it provided an opportunity to bond with his father.

"I just remember every Sunday afternoon, it would be me and him sitting on the sofa," Woodruff recalled.  "We'd lock all the doors, close all the shades, and watch the football games all day.  That's what we did every Sunday.  I was just destined to play football."

Woodruff was drafted into the NFL in 1979.  He won a Super Bowl championship ring with the Steelers the following year and went on to spend a total of 11 years in the league.  But along the way, he realized he needed to plan for life after football.

"I wanted to find something that gave me that same feeling as football, that same excitement, where I'd want to get up in the morning and go to work and compete, and law seemed to fit that bill," explained Woodruff.  "It's that competitive process.  The only big difference is you can't hit anybody."

So although he was still playing football full-time, Woodruff began law school at nights, while his wife Joy took on the rest.

"She was mom, dad, taxi driver, cook and everything for four years that I was in school," Woodruff said.  "I would get up in the morning, get ready go to practice, go to work for football, and after that grab a sandwich and go to Duquesne [University] where I went at night."

"It was definitely a lot of work," recalled Joy Woodruff.  "It was important to our family that he pursued his education in order to take care of our family.  And so I felt I had to do my part."

But Dwayne Woodruff did not stop there.  After 16 years of practicing law, with the children grown and out of the house, he felt he needed to pursue his passion further.

"Being a judge felt right in regard to what I wanted to do in life," explained Woodruff.  "In particular being a juvenile court judge [was rewarding] because I have a passion dealing with young people and kids, helping them achieve their dreams.  It was just sort of a perfect position for me.  Being a judge, dealing with kids and being in a servant position."

Judge Woodruff's passion goes far beyond the courtroom.  He and his wife are also involved with multiple charities and continue dedicating their lives to children.

"I think that's the only way to get America back on the right track, to start out with youngest of kids first," added Woodruff.

While the transition from the playing field to the judge's bench may not seem to be an obvious course, Woodruff says playing football and being a judge have a lot in common.  He says both take a lot of work, preparation and determination, along with a lot of belief and faith in what you are doing.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs