Former Notre Dame football player Avery Sebastian fought hard to become a great safety and caught the eyes of recruits across the country.
But injuries throughout his career kept his dreams of playing in the NFL from becoming a reality.
“Every man in my family played football,” said Sebastian, who played for the Golden Bears of the University of California, Berkeley before moving to the University of Notre Dame for his final year of eligibility. “ My half-brother played at Ohio State University, my brother played at Southern Connecticut, my cousin played at Rhode Island, and my uncle played in Germany. I figured I was next up, and I hoped to be the first to make it into the NFL.”
Sebastian earned a sociology degree from Cal, and enrolled in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business to work toward a master’s degree in management.
“I also figured being coached by one of the best college football staffs would improve my chances of getting into the NFL,” he said.
Growing up in McDonough, Georgia, Sebastian always knew he wanted to play football. His brother, Justin Sebastian, was optimistic of his chances.
“Avery was competitive and strived to be the best at everything he did,” Justin Sebastian said. “Not only was he athletic and competitive, but he was extremely bright and ambitious. He performed very well in school in hopes of making big money one day to support us. He has a big heart.”
In 2010, Avery Sebastian was named to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was also named an All-American by SuperPrep and Prepstar. He was listed as the sixth-best safety in his recruiting class by ESPN and the eighth-best by Rivals. He was considered the No. 46 defensive back nationally by SuperPrep and considered the 68th-best player overall by ESPN. He was named to the U.S. Under-19 National Team following his senior year of high school, playing in the 2011 International Bowl.
Isaac Rochell, Sebastian’s teammate at Notre Dame, also played with him in high school at Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy in McDonough, Ga.
“As long as I’ve known Avery, he’s always been a fighter,” Rochell said. “We didn’t play together at Cal, but of course we kept in contact. I know he had a lot of injuries out there and to see him still make it this far is incredible.”
Sebastian had NFL draft interest from the Chicago Bears, but nothing came of it. He believes his injury record kept him from being drafted
“In September 2012, I tore my hamstring,” Sebastian said. “In August 2013, I got a concussion that caused me to be hospitalized. A month later in September of 2013, I tore my Achilles and had a bone spur removal. In December of 2014, I had another bone spur removal. All of these injuries happened while I was at Cal.”
He went on to start a new chapter in his life at Notre Dame, but unfortunately the injuries continued. He broke his foot in September 2015 and received another concussion in September 2016.
“It’s been a long, rough journey, but I refuse to quit,” Sebastian said. “I’m just fortunate I have my degrees because no one can take your education away from you. Business has always been my plan B.”
Sebastian recently moved from Atlanta to Chicago. He has received multiple offers from business companies after graduating with his master’s degree. Football is now on the back-burner.
Sebastian’s mother, Yvonne Sebastian is his biggest supporter. She has always made it priority to attend his games and has traveled around the country to watch her son play. She has also been there for him through the ups and downs of his career.
“I did not raise my son to be a quitter. He has defied all odds and I could not be prouder,” Yvonne Sebastian said. “He is a strong man and he will achieve his goals no matter what. I have been there throughout his journey, and I will continue to be there for him wherever life takes him.”