Athlete Turned Astronaut: Former Dallas Cowboy Leland D. Melvin’s Journey From the End Zone to Outer Space

STEM CAREER: Astronaut (very successful astronaut shortly after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys football team in 1987)

YoungSTEMs Connection: As a child Leland’s mother gave him a chemistry set, and told him he would “make a great astronaut”. Leland at the time didn’t think much of it, as he saw people like Neil Armstrong and others on the moon but nobody that looked like him. But, just his mother planting the seed in his brain and that simple toy of a chemistry set sparked the idea of becoming an astronaut at an early age.

Significant Contributions:

  • First Retired NFL player to become an astronaut
  • One of 16 African American NASA astronauts
  • Multiple NASA Outstanding Performance Awards

Multiple NASA Superior Accomplishment Awards


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This article was written by Jalen Milton.

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The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.

— Robert M Hutchins

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