“I’m just trying to fill that role that I didn’t have as a kid"

The Orange County Register reports that Los Angeles Rams rookie Taylor Rapp is hoping to inspire young Asian American athletes.

The 21-year-old Chinese American was the 61st pick and was drafted in the second round in the 2019 NFL draft.

Born in Atlanta and raised in Bellingham, Washington, Rapp said there were very few Asian faces in the NFL to inspire him.

“Growing up, every kid wants someone they can relate to,” Rapp said. “It was kind of hard for me with sports because there’s a lack of Asian representation in all pro sports, especially football.”

Other Asian NFL professional players include veterans Hines Ward, Dat Nguyen, Johnnie Morton and Eugene Chung.

The former University of Washington Huskie added that he hopes he can be the one to inspire young Asians to play football.

“I’m just trying to fill that role that I didn’t have as a kid,” he said. “Just being that figure and role model for those kids who might’ve been in my position. Someone they can relate to, someone to inspire them.”

Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals is the only other Asian-American player to be drafted in 2019.

Chapman University safety Pranav Iyer expressed his appreciation for Rapp utilising his ethnicity for a greater cause.

“With his platform as a high draftee playing America’s sport and having a public platform, he has the ability to greatly change how Asian Americans are viewed in the context of sports and the public eye,”  Iyer said. “You don’t see people that look like us, whether it’s coaches, analysts, athletes. That plays into the idea that Asian Americans aren’t involved in sports.”

“It’s great that (Rapp) is embracing his Asian American identity, instead of shying away from it,” he said. “I hope that along with the success he will have in the league (it) will help to normalize the concept of an Asian American being a star athlete and a celebrity.”

Earlier this year NFL Champion Hines Ward sent Rapp an inspirational message about Asians playing football.