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Myron Rolle: Rhodes Scholar and Former NFL Safety Turned Neurosurgeon

Myron Rolle neurosurgeon, ex-professional football player, and philanthropist

Photo/Barry Chin/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Would you give up an NFL career to study medicine? After three seasons in the league, Myron Rolle, a Bahamian-American scholar and humanitarian did just that.

Life on His Own Terms

Myron Rolle was a devoted athlete who enjoyed playing football, however, he also wanted to become a neurosurgeon. Rolle was inspired to pursue medicine after reading Dr. Ben Carson’s book, “Gifted Hands” in the 5th grade.

Now, in his fourth year of Neurosurgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Myron Rolle is living his childhood dream. Last year, amid rising COVID-19 cases in Boston, the Harvard-educated neurosurgeon switch gears from his normal neurosurgery operations to work the 24-hour shift on the front lines at Mass General surge clinic, helping to treat COVID-19 patients. He described his role at the surge clinic as being a “foot soldier in this larger fight,” in a column for Peter King’s “Football Morning in America.”

Striving for Excellence

The youngest of five brothers, Myron Rolle moved with his family from Bahamas to Galloway Township, New Jersey at age 3. He grew up in a loving family that was committed to black excellence. Like many immigrant families who come to the United States with dreams of a better life, his parents wanted Rolle and his siblings to be successful in school and in whatever career path they chose.

Myron Rolle excelled in school. This led to a scholarship to attend The Hun School of Princeton. At Hun, Rolle stood-out. He was among a very small group of traditionally underrepresented Black students at the prestigious secondary prep school. Although he did not look like most of his peers, his parents nurtured a feeling of belongingness. “I appreciate my parents for emboldening us and giving us that confidence," Rolle said in an NBC Sports Boston Black History month feature. He was held to high expectations and rose to the occasion. Rolle received 21 Advanced Placement credits toward his college education and had a 4.0 GPA at The Hun School of Princeton.

NFL Hopeful

Myron Rolle would go on to play division one football at Florida State University. Chasing his career ambitions, he chose a school that offered the best of both worlds – a football team he admired and a medical school. But as a newcomer on the Seminole football team, he did not fit in for reasons unlike those at Hun. His teammates saw him as a preppy nerd, which made him a target for bullying. Rolle quickly showed them that he was not one to be messed with. When a team member challenged him to a fight, he earned his teammates respect by giving this young man a good ass-whooping.

With his eye set on the NFL and a career in medicine after football, Myron Rolle excelled academically and athletically. While at Florida State University, he applied and was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford. In 2008, he was also named a third-team All-American and second-team All-ACC. Projected as the 18th pick in the first round of that season’s draft, Rolle was faced with a major life decision, accept the scholarship for the 2009/2010 academic year and risk his NFL career or turn down the Rhodes scholarship. The decision wasn’t easy. But he ultimately accepted the scholarship – a decision his parents fully supported.

After a stand-out collegiate career, Myron Rolle spent three seasons in the league with the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers before leaving the NFL in 2013.

Using His Powers for Good

Myron Rolle exemplifies Caribbean and Black excellence. He is making a meaningful impact in his community and in the field of medicine. Rolle has been recognized by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons for demonstrating the best operative technique in the reconstruction of upper extremity motor function using intercostal nerve transfers after a traumatic brachial plexus injury. He is also reaching back to help those less fortunate through the Myron Rolle Foundation. The foundation provides education and health wellness services to the underserved in the U.S. as well as his home-country of the Bahamas.

In addition, he is the founder of the CARICOM Neurosurgical Initiative, a health system-strengthening project to improve neurosurgical care in the Caribbean. Rolle is very committed to this initiative. As of June 21, Dr. Rolle has raised over $170,000 through GoFundMe, including donations from the Kraft Family Foundation ($50,000), Abiomed Inc. ($25,000), and Massachusetts General Hospital ($50,000), and is close to achieving his $200,000 goal.

Myron Rolle’s CARICOM Neurosurgical Initiative

As we celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month this June, Unstoppable Yes You would like to recognize and celebrate the achievements of impact maker - Myron Rolle. We need #moreofthis.


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