By Mekialaya White

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Montbello native Josh “Mode” Ford knows how to triumph over life’s obstacles. After all, he’s been doing it for 28 years.

“It’s all about the journey. I’m still going,” he said.

READ MORE: CBS4 Special Section Elevating Black Voices

(credit: Cagebreakers)

Ford sat down with CBS4’s Mekialaya White for a one-on-one interview at the Montbello Boys & Girls Club to share his story ahead of Black History Month. From an early age, his strong roots were laid at the Club, which he calls his safe haven.

“This is a place that saved myself and a couple other individuals,” Ford explained. “From here, there wasn’t a lot of opportunity, a lot of outlets.”

Football was always his outlet.

“I played with the Montbello Falcons,” he said proudly. “I was originally supposed to go to Montbello High School, but I kept getting into trouble. So my mom was like ‘Nah,’ and she sent me across town to Mullen and it was rough there, but I excelled.”

CU Buffaloes tailback Josh Ford obliged young autograph seekers following practice in Boulder in 2012.

CU Buffaloes tailback Josh Ford obliged young autograph seekers following practice in Boulder in 2012. (credit: Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Ford quickly realized that playing football could take him places, and it did. After graduating from Mullen, he played Division I football at Kansas State, but his grades suffered and he dropped out.

“I was like ‘Nah, nah.’ That was rough in itself because I was like ‘Am I done? Is it over?'”

It wasn’t. A short time later, his inspiration was renewed.

“I remember, I was sitting in the basement, it was actually my uncle’s basement. I was watching the Rocky Mountain Showdown like, I gotta get back into school. So many of my friends were getting in trouble at that time. And I said, ‘I can’t go down this road.'”

Ford set his sights on playing football at the University of Colorado Boulder. After briefly attending Kansas-based Barton Community College to get his grades up, he got his shot to transfer to CU.

“I had to walk on. That was challenging. It was tough because I was 10th on the depth chart, it wasn’t really looking good, but … tunnel vision.”

Josh Ford (credit: CBS)

But from there, more adversity struck.

“My senior year, one of the top backs, PAC-12 on notice, the nation is on notice. In training camp … I break my ankle. Yeah, and that led to a lot of depression.”

That depression turned to compassion, and propelled him into action. Ford became an asset to his community, inspiring a new generation by being who he needed when he was in the exact same shoes. He now works with young athletes through his organization Cagebreakers.

“I had a lot of cages growing up. And I’ve broken out of cages, we all have cages,” Ford said. “Self-doubt, my attitude, growing up being angry, a bunch of different things that kept me caged. But once you break out of it, you fly.”

Through volunteering, he aspires to teach youth something he knows firsthand: to never let anyone put limits on you.

“Never let them, never. A lot of people are going to try and limit you in life and dictate what you can or can’t be. You don’t let them.”

In addition to being a philanthropist, Ford has authored two books — “Out the Cage” and “Misinformed.”

Mekialaya White