REGION — When injuries ended the NFL career of Prince Daniels Jr., the former Baltimore Ravens running back fell into three years of deep depression.
“I was in a business where you have to be healthy, so I was forced to retire in 2009,” the 35-year-old Del Mar resident said. “It created a void.
“I knew I had to find a new career, but I didn’t know what that career looked like,” he added. “I felt a loss of self-identity.”
After eventually redefining himself through mindfulness, Daniels is applying what he’s learned through his Prince of Fitness programs and his nonprofit, The 4LBU Foundation, which helps people of all ages identify and use their talents to prepare for life.
He also wrote “Danny Yukon and the Secrets of the Amazing Lamp,” a book that teaches youth how to meditate to confront fears, pursue dreams and enhance their overall well-being.
“Mindfulness for the Ultimate Athlete,” due out later this year, was written to help athletes of all levels and in all sports understand mindfulness and apply it to their respective craft to enrich their game.
— Prince Daniels Jr, (@prince_of_fit) January 15, 2018
He created to correlate with his philosophy, Prince of Fitness offers the Ultimate Athlete Retreat, which he said equips young athletes with mindful techniques and training for high performance in the upcoming season.
A two-day “miniseries” of that program, open to male and female athletes between 12 and 18 years old, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 3-4 at San Dieguito County Park on Lomas Santa Fe Drive.
“It will help them tap into themselves to focus and be calm in the midst of chaos,” Daniels said.
“Whenever I get the opportunity to teach, I look to infuse it with fitness, which is the best way to feel and understand the changes in your body.
“When you’re tired and breathing heavily, closing your eyes allows you to calm down and help transition, whether it’s from middle school to high school, high school to college, into a new job or from poverty to a different mentality,” he added. “I look to teach from my heart. It does wonders.”
Daniels was born in Texas, grew up in Houston and Mississippi and was a walk-on at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he majored in business management and minored in organic chemistry.
Although he started seventh on the bench, he became a starter due to other players’ injuries and attrition.
“I was the lone man standing in my position,” he said. “I was prepared so if the opportunity came I could take it and run with it. I was very fortunate.”
A two-time all-conference tailback, the fourth-leading rusher in Georgia Tech football history with 3,300 yards and a two-time Academic All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, Daniels was drafted in 2006 by the Ravens in the fourth round — 132nd overall.
“I had three great years there,” he said. “My rookie year they felt I needed to develop as a player. It was a great opportunity but I injured by shoulder and my hamstring and I was labeled injury-prone.
“Once that was taken away from me, I had to find myself again,” Daniels added.
He had plans, after a long and successful football career, to become an orthodontist or actor or create opportunities for underprivileged kids and former athletes.
“But my struggle with self-identity took me in another direction,” he said. “I didn’t have control of my life.”
With two uncles who are monks, he decided to visit a monastery, where he learned mindfulness.
“I went there to see what I could find,” he said. “I was waiting for something miraculous to happen.”
While that “one bedazzling moment” never occurred, the experience changed his life.
“I can’t pinpoint one specific thing,” Daniels said. “I learned to understand patience and seeing what incredible human beings we all are. You need to learn to love yourself so you can love other people.”
Now married and the father of a 2-year-old, Daniels is also a motivational speaker and fitness trainer. Having left college his senior year to enter the draft, he completed his education at the University of San Diego and holds a business degree from Georgia Tech.
He said his programs are based on personal life experiences and designed by him to provide an opportunity to cultivate the mind, body and spirit. While they include meditation, he said he prefers to use the word mindfulness.
“Meditation is not a religion or a philosophy,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle change. It’s an effortless practice that allows you to access a level of concentration, awareness and calmness all over the world at all times.
“And I’m all about making the world a better place,” he added. “I think that’s universal.”
To register for the upcoming miniseries, visit http://princeoffitness.com/ultimate-athlete/. Scholarships are available through The 4LBU Foundation.