SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Shaq Thompson felt right at home at his Thompson Family Football camp. Not just because he’s on the field, but because he remembers where these kids are.

“So my family was a big, big football family and every Sunday I used to wake up and just go to the camps — every Sunday. Half of them would probably be like 20, 30 people there. We just run stairs, drills and stuff like that,” Thompson said. 

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He started young, as a five or six-year-old. But he’s bigger now. A starting NFL linebacker getting ready for his fifth season in Carolina with the Panthers.

Thompson said he misses the weather in Sacramento now that he’s living in Charlotte.

“The humidity out there is crazy, that’s one thing but then family,” Thompson said. 

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There is plenty of families, and friends he considers family, who helped with his Thompson Family Football Camp on April 27.

“We were supposed to do 300 kids then it exceeded to 400, so it’s a huge jump from the first year to this year, so I’m excited we got two groups, ready to get these kids rolling,” Thompson said. 

Thompson said it was always his dream to play in the NFL.

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“I mean that was the dream ever since I was started playing football, everyone says you wanna have a backup plan, I didn’t have a backup plan,” Thompson said. “My whole mindset and goal was like — I’m gonna put all my marbles and eggs in this basket… if it don’t work out then I don’t know what I’m gonna do in life, but at the end of the day it all worked out for me, family, success, and support and I’m here now.”

He said it feels good to get messages from kids in the Sacramento area on social media who look up to him.

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I mean it takes some years. I’m not that type of guy that dwells on, that but it does feel good when kids from your area message you on Instagram or Twitter, like ‘Man you’re a hero… and I’m from Sacramento and I look up to you’ like that so that really hits hard and man it’s just paved a way for them,” Thompson said. 

He represents a dream achieved for many behind him, but he’s far from reaching his own goals. After Carolina’s all-time tackle leader left the team last season, Thompson sees greatness in his future.

“My journey is kinda crazy. My first four years I was behind a legend, a GOAT in the community, and on the team — Thomas Davis — so, I really learned a lot from him and how to carry myself on and off the field especially as a professional. Right now, I mean, it’s my turn so honestly, I’m excited… I’m excited to create my own shoes. I’m tired of people saying you got big shoes to fill. Nah, those are his shoes. I got my own shoes to create,” Thompson said. 

All the while, Thompson understands a new generation in Sacramento is trying to follow in his footsteps.

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“My message would be man, if you really love football, basketball, or whatever profession it is, if it’s not a sport, if it’s a doctor a lawyer or anything, put your mind into focus all into that and anything can come true,” Thompson said. “My NFL dream came true, a couple people from Sacramento’s, I can say, Eric Armstead, his NFL dream came true… but just stay focused and grind and don’t ever listen to nobody telling you you can’t do it. Just put your head down and keep going.”