After not playing organized football until his sophomore year at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High School, Winston Justice went on to be an offensive tackle at USC, where he blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners and won a National Championship.
Selected by the Eagles in the second round, 39th overall, of the 2006 NFL Draft, Justice was, in essence, starting over.
"Going across the nation was something that was different, and so I was excited about the opportunity. And at the same time, I knew this was going to be a big change," Justice says. "The NFL is competitive. And if you're drafted early, there's going to be competition. So I don't think that's out of the ordinary. But I had a really awesome coach, Juan Castillo. He really spent the time coaching and also being that guiding factor for a young rookie coming in. A lot of players don't have that, and I really had that coach in Juan Castillo."
Inactive as a rookie, did Justice feel added pressure because he was a high pick?
"I think everyone feels pressure when he goes to the NFL. One, because you want to do good. You've been working most of your life to get to this place, and you want to be really, really successful," he says. "A lot of that pressure comes from within. Especially pressure to learn the plays, pressure to get better. So the NFL was what I expected. I knew it was going to be hard and challenging and my limits were going to be pushed."
Justice became the full-time starter at right tackle in 2009, and the following season was the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
"I think that's a testament to the whole organization of the Eagles and how they highlight community involvement," Justice says. "I couldn't have won that without partnering with the Eagles and finding ways to give back to the community. I always wanted to find things that are purposeful and things that I could contribute back to.
"I think that's one of our purposes as human beings in the world, to look at a fellow human being and see the best in them and figure out ways to use my resources to give back to society. I really feel that the Eagles play a part in doing that in Philadelphia, and so I'm just happy to have been a part of it."
Justice was with the Eagles for six seasons, playing in 47 games with 29 starts at right tackle from 2009-10, before being traded in 2012 to Indianapolis.
"A lot of growth happened when I was in Philly. I moved out from California, got married, had all my kids in Philly," Justice says. "My fondest memory is getting the game ball for the Panthers game in 2009. I got some game balls after that, as well, but that was my first one. It's still on my shelf now, so that really means a lot.
"And I think the coaching staff with the Eagles, Andy Reid, Juan Castillo, Marty Mornhinweg, I think they're all really patient coaches. Normally, people don't have that type of experience. Also, I think even the owner, Jeff Lurie, and the G.M., Howie Roseman, they're all really patient. I know that was really a unique situation I had at the Eagles, and I'm definitely blessed to be a part of that.
"The NFL, especially that time with the Eagles, was really like a stepping stone in life to really do a whole array of awesome things. It really opened up a lot of doors."
One of the thresholds Justice crossed was at George Washington University, where he earned an MBA in finance.
"I enjoyed football. I think that was a skill of mine," Justice says. "But outside of that, it's really limited. I can't really sing. I don't really play an instrument. But I do enjoy numbers, I do enjoy business, and I do enjoy the public markets.
"And so when I was playing, I was thinking about what can I contribute, the skills I have, to really make an impact in business and also in finance. When I was done, I was going to find a business or excel in finance, so I can use that skill to give back to the community."
Justice, who owns a chain of coffee shops, Elixr Coffee Roasters, with four locations at Philadelphia and one in State College, Pennsylvania, entered the financial field as an associate analyst. From there, he went to Pacific Income Advisors as a portfolio manager of a multimanager hedge fund.
And now making his home in Nashville, with his wife, Dania, and their children: Selah, Calais, and Tali; Justice is a vice president with AllianceBernstein.
"I manage assets for endowments and foundations and institutions," he says. "That's a way for me to give back because really, especially with the institutions like a museum, a school, a food bank, you're at the tip of the spear of creating change, and you're using finance.
"Finances are really intimate. I get to combine finance and apply that towards the mission of the institution we're partnered with, or the family we're partnered with. And so I get to live lives with these people and plan legacy, really get down to issues that matter to that family or the institutions, and find solutions to accomplish those goals."