Survival Road Leads Baldwin to K.C.

From the Truman Sports Complex

The juxtaposition of the stories that appeared in Friday’s edition of the Beaver County Times newspaper were startling. The headlines provided a glimpse of just another day in the struggling old steel town of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

Story No. 1

“Chiefs take Aliquippa’s Baldwin in NFL Draft”

Jonathan Baldwin hit the jackpot Thursday night when he was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Baldwin, an Aliquippa High School graduate who turned pro after his junior season at Pitt, was taken with the 26th overall pick of the draft.

Baldwin is the fifth Aliquippa grad to be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. The others were: Mike Ditka, a tight end out of Pitt, in 1961; Sean Gilbert, a defensive end out of Pitt, in 1992; Ty Law, a cornerback out of Michigan, in 1995; and Darrelle Revis, a cornerback out of Pitt, in 2007

Story No. 2

“Aliquippa man sentenced to 30 years in prison for running drug ring.”

PITTSBURGH – An Aliquippa man who was the head of a large drug ring in the city was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh on Thursday to 30 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release.

Anthony Ali Dorsett, 34, was sentenced by Judge Alan N. Block on a charge of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Other drug charges against Dorsett were dismissed. He was one of 13 men charged in 2008 who were part of a drug ring that sold cocaine from 2004 until the time of their arrest.

Anthony Ali Dorsett is the nephew of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.

I don’t know if Jonathan Baldwin knows Anthony Ali Dorsett, but he probably does. Their shared roots are in Aliquippa, a dying steel town of less than 10,000 residents in western Pennsylvania. Baldwin has been a sports star in the Ohio River community for the last half-decade. Everybody there knows J.B.

And more than likely when you are the cocaine kingpin of a small town like the ‘Quip, and your uncle is one of the town’s greatest legends, there’s no way you are going to blend into the shadows. Everybody there knows Ali.

On the day Baldwin took the next step in his successful ride courtesy of the game of football, Dorsett was taking a step in the other direction, one that will likely see his life end in a federal prison sometime in the next 30 years.

It’s not easy to explain how and why Baldwin continues to ride the survival highway, while Ali Dorsett joins so many of the other young men of Aliquippa who have fallen to drugs and crime. But for all of us it’s important to understand the road Baldwin has traveled. I’m sure that in the days and years to come, we will come to learn some of the secrets of his survival.

“I’m a very hard worker you know,” Baldwin told the Kansas City media over the phone late Thursday night. “I’ll give it everything I have. I’ll do everything the coaches ask me to do and that’s what I’ll do.”

Those that know Baldwin will tell you that type of attitude is something he learned at home. Mom and Dad were a huge influence. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Jonathan Baldwin had both parents in his home, raising their son and two daughters. Jeffrey Baldwin is something many in Aliquippa do not have – a true father figure, an example setter, a disciplinarian when needed, and a loving confidante when asked.

 ”It always helps when you have somebody helping you with things like that,” Jonathan Baldwin said. “He tells me, ‘It just depends on how bad you want to do it. If you want to go to the NFL and you really work hard at it and you have the ability to, you just have to keep working at it,’ and that’s what I intend to do.”

The highway that leads out of Aliquippa to the University of Pittsburgh has not always been a smooth ride over the last three years for Baldwin. Like most of the winter beaten roads of western Pennsylvania the trip has hit a few potholes along the way. There was a May 2009 arrest for assault on the Pitt campus, a charge that was eventually dismissed. There were some not so nice words for his QB last year with the Panthers that caused controversy.

Those were minor blips on a radar screen full of much bigger bogeys and there will likely be a few more potholes when he gets his feet on the ground in Kansas City.

Jonathan Baldwin has traveled the survival road out of Aliquippa and ahead of him are his hopes and dreams. Behind him are his roots and those like Ali Dorsett.

5 Responses to “Survival Road Leads Baldwin to K.C.”

  • April 29, 2011  - Adam S says:

    Isn’t this also the guy who publically critisiced(sp) his football team? Survivor or not, I’m not sure if I want a d-bag on our team.

  • April 29, 2011  - tuan says:

    Man give the kid a change.question, have you ever
    back talk to your parent? talk bad about your friend and or partners? do you felt bad after you
    did it? and deserve a second change..I dont know why but a lot of men alway sounded like they’re perfect but deep down they known thy’re not..
    thank you.

  • April 29, 2011  - sdchief says:

    well. I like it. we got an extra third, a second WR who can catch the jump ball 1 on 1…

    I trust our staff as to the type of person he is

    id like to see NT/C addressed in the next 3 rounds…

  • April 29, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Baldwin is a bit of a gamble but the potential upside justifies the gamble. Size, speed, hands…all of the things you want in a WR. Now if he commits to football and the Chiefs we have a potential Top 10 WR for years to come.

    For those that think the Chiefs reached…I have 2 words “Green Bay”. I doubt that Baldwin would have fallen past the Pack who have an aging Donald Driver and underperforming James Jones.

    Great Pick in Baldwin and we get a high 3 Pick to invest in OL/NT/LB. Nice move Chiefs.

  • April 29, 2011  - el cid says:

    Give the kid a chance. At least get on his helmet, to many buy into right 53 and character as an end all for a championship. Well folks, sometimes you have to deal with/coach/mentor the rest of us.

    First time I really feel Pioli is taking imput from knowledgeable others to put together the roster. Shows huge growth by him.

    Kid may miss but we still got an extra 3rd and the organization has shown, maybe for the first time under Pioli, winning is the goal and sometimes you take a flyer on a good player with a shakey history (maybe)

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