Football, like any sport, is a game. You play. You win. You lose. But sport can transcend its role as a mere game. For some, it can become something far greater.
For Los Angeles Rams Safety and Blenders Entourage athlete, Taylor Rapp, football was a proving ground in more ways than one — a place where he developed his identity and conquered doubt. And, in recent times, even a vehicle through which he inspires others.
Taylor Rapp was born in Atlanta, Georgia on December 22, 1997 to mother, Chiyan, and father, Chris.
Taylor’s parents met in China — while his father is an Oklahoma-born American raised in Canada, his mother is a native of Shanghai. And for a young man that would spend his formative years in Bellingham, Washington, that would all prove profoundly significant.
School in Washington didn’t offer many familiar faces. As an Asian-American, Taylor didn’t look like most of his peers — and at times, they weren’t shy about letting him know it. Teasing and taunting weren’t uncommon, and Taylor would spend much of his time in grade school feeling marginalized because of his background. This continued at Sehome High School in Bellingham, where he felt a fiery urge to prove himself on the football field.
Speaking with Young Post on those days, Taylor had the following to say: “There are not many Asian-Americans like me in Bellingham. It was definitely hard to embrace. For me, trying to play sports and make it to college in sports – there are not a lot of Asian-Americans to look up to in both college and pro sports. Every other kid had someone to look up to or relate to. I didn’t really have that because there weren’t that many Asians in, well, any sport.”
It was this feeling of isolation that would drive Taylor in the future, both on and off the field.
The University of Washington would at first prove both different and all too familiar for Taylor. While there was a dramatic increase in diversity on campus, he still felt overlooked as a football player in no small part due to his ethnicity.
And so he put on a show that couldn’t be ignored.
Wasting no time, Taylor was named the Pac-12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. He would also pick up three Freshman All-America honors before a scintillating sophomore season marked by first-team All-Pac-12 honors — and acceptance into the prestigious Foster School of Business. His junior season only further highlighted his dominance, earning him first-team All-American honors from both Sports Illustrated and the Associated Press.
On January 2, 2019, Taylor announced his decision to forego his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Los Angeles Rams selected Rapp in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft — #61 overall. He was only the fifth safety taken.
Following an injury that hampered his efforts in 2020, Taylor’s return to the gridiron in 2021 can only be described as “instant impact.” In Week 6 alone, he notched two interceptions, three passes defensed, and five tackles in a win over the Giants, nabbing NFC Defensive Player of the Week. And coming off a concussion in week 17 that forced him to miss the first three games of the playoffs, Taylor would stand victorious in Super Bowl LV over the Cincinnati Bengals after recording seven tackles.
The cherry on top? A post-game proposal to then-girlfriend, Dani Johnson. (She said yes.)
Success on the field has brought with it greater purpose off the field. As Taylor’s star has risen, so has his influence — a reality he embraces with open arms.
Now a vocal advocate for the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, Taylor launched an NFT series in 2021 that pays tribute to his Chinese heritage and supports the broader community. Titled “Year of the Ox,” the six editions feature hand-painted graphics by his grandfather, with all proceeds donated to GoFundMe’s AAPI Community Fund. And since Taylor wants today’s Asian-American youth to have the role models in sport he never had, he’s made it a point to visit with them in school, including Castelar Elementary in LA’s Chinatown.
Via his IG (@taylorrapp), Taylor had this to say on the Castelar trip: “They have the highest population of Asian-American students in ALL of LA!! I had the time of my life getting to meet and interact with these amazing kids… I hope I was able to inspire every single one of them to not let anyone tell them what they can and can’t do, and to go after their dreams, no matter what they might be.”
Taylor Rapp knows what it’s like to feel marginalized, but through grit and determination, he’s beaten the odds to rise to the pinnacle of his sport. Now, he’s sharing his success with the next generation — and that’s one heck of a way to Live Life in Forward Motion.
Welcome to the Blenders Entourage, Taylor.