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Next Chapter: Lou Young

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CHARLOTTE — Though the goal has gone from a Super Bowl ring to an Oscar, former Panthers cornerback Lou Young is still dreaming.

Young was in Carolina from 2014-16 amid a rollercoaster NFL career that saw him bounce around six teams in five years, mainly on practice squads. He saw his only in-game action for six Panthers games in 2016 and was on the roster in 2015, but inactive for Super Bowl 50.

Today, Young is an online content creator whose comedy videos reach millions of views across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. And his ambition goes beyond the digital sphere.

"My ultimate goal is movies, TV shows, blockbusters, out there headlining shows, hosting 'Saturday Night Live,'" Young said. "Being on 'The Tonight Show,' talk shows, walking red carpets, Emmy Awards, and Oscars (while) having my own platform at the same time and being behind the scenes. I like to help people create things."

Lou Young

Young's NFL career ended in Arizona, where he was waived before the 2018 season. While rehabbing a hamstring injury, he started making videos – a lot of impersonations and relatable comedy – to lighten his spirits through a tough time.

Young said he had told friends since childhood that his dream was to play professional football and become an actor, and his "class clown" reputation made him an in-house media favorite during his college years at Georgia Tech. He always liked being in front of a camera, so leaning on comedy videos made sense.

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Young joined the now-defunct Alliance of American Football in 2019 while keeping up with his content hobby, practicing football during the day before practicing his art at home every night. When the AAF shut down in April, Young moved forward with content creation.

"Literally the day it ended, I just went full head of steam into this comedy and acting thing," Young said. "And I haven't looked back since."

He learned to edit from a close friend, and videos started to gain traction in 2019 thanks to his Steve Harvey impersonation.

Harvey himself took notice of Young's "Shleve Harvey" bit and flew him to a 'Family Feud' taping in Los Angeles, which gave the former football player a taste of what it's like to act in front of a crowd.

"I didn't really know that I was going to be in front of a live audience," Young said. "(He) just kind of put me out there, and I credit football and playing in front of big crowds. Once the stage is set, I like performing with the lights."

Young went on to refine his editing skills through the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to post content, drawing inspiration from current events and personal experiences – everywhere from working out at the gym to going to the grocery store with his 6-year-old daughter.

"I got cut a lot; I got signed a lot," Young said. "I spent a lot of time in the front office with coaches in meetings. Sometimes (I) make fun of people getting cut because I was cut. I know how to impersonate coaches, on and off the field, in meeting rooms, how they walk, how they talk. I impersonate my father. I impersonate how different players act, celebrities, trending topics, and I kind of remix it and put my own twist on it."

Carolina's content department came calling this year, recruiting Young to act in a hype video ahead of the Panthers' Week 10 Thursday night matchup with the Falcons. Young, who had last been in the building five years ago when he was released from the team, was at Bank of America Stadium that night for the game. And when the video played on the video board before kickoff, he was "in awe of it all."

"I'm at the game, and I'm interacting with fans, and I didn't have that type of impact when I had that helmet on," Young said. "But I'm in those crowds with the fans, and people run up to me. We're taking pictures, laughing, they're telling me what videos they love, what they can relate to. The next thing you know, my face is on the big screen."

Now almost four years into creating content full-time, Young has gone from a one-man operation to hiring two videographers, though he still edits all of his videos.

"I'm very passionate about it; it's going to take me a long way," Young said. "Whether I'm on camera or behind the camera, I think I'm taking this somewhere. I don't even know where it's going, but it just keeps climbing every day. So I'm just taking it straight to the top.

"I feel like my talent is different, and the world's got to see it."

Young, who splits time between his base in Atlanta and his hometown in Washington, D.C., said when he's not making videos, he spends time with his daughter and giving back to the community through his foundations, HopeFinders INC and the Cody Young Foundation. His charitable work is focused on youth development, looking to make a difference in his hometown after the birth of his daughter and the passing of his brother, Cody, who died due to gun violence.

Young said the impact he's able to have now feels greater than when he played football, and he finds fulfillment in his path.

"I'm able to reach and touch people way more than I did when I had a football helmet on or playing football, so I'm blessed," Young said. "I have a gift, I feel like, from God to just impact people or change their moods.

"I had to get through pain myself, dealing with my brother being killed, different losses in my family, football ups and downs. Comedy helped my pain, and I just want to help everybody else the same."

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