Words: Kristie Bertucci Photos: Brian McGee
A few weeks before the start of the 2016-2017 NFL season, Akeem Ayers received shocking news after he was dismissed from the LA Rams during pre-season. It was no secret that the L.A. native and former UCLA Bruin standout player was excited to be back home playing in the city he grew up in, so when he got the news, he was disappointed but took it in stride. It wasn’t long before the Indianapolis Colts made public their decision to pick up the Super Bowl Champion outside linebacker and add him to their roster.
“It really doesn’t matter what team I’m on,” he confesses. “I just set out to do better this year and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” Before this season started, Ayers sought out to come back in the best shape he’s ever been in so that he can have one of his best years thus far. He focused more on his diet and trained differently, adding that instead of his usual weight lifting routine, he mixed it up to do more agility work so that he can increase his quickness on the field. And even though he originally thought he’d be working toward his best for the Rams, he’s still bringing the same game plan with the Colts.
“My goals haven’t changed and I’m still out to be a productive player,” he says. “I’m going to be a team player and just do the best I can even though I’m with a different team.” But Ayers also admits that he’s not shaken up by the whole ordeal and that the Colts actually fit his skill set better. “This team has different schemes that better suit what I do best, so I fit in perfectly with what they do here.”
There’s no doubt that Ayers has passion for the game – something that’s been with him seen his college days at UCLA. Football wasn’t always his plan he admits. But when he hit high school, he realized his talents and wanted to see how far it could take him. “When you enjoy doing something, it’s not hard to go out and really do it if you want it that bad,” he details. “It’s not a chore and you don’t feel forced. It just comes natural to you and you want to do your best because you love doing it. Because I didn’t have to force myself, it made it easier to really commit and dedicate myself to get to where I am now.” That dedication has allowed the 27-year-old to play in the NFL for the past seven seasons and has been able to acquire a few of his dream rides. His Rolls-Royce Phantom is the vehicle he’s always wanted and he finally pulled the trigger on the lavish ride two years ago. The Phantom is his car of choice when he wants to feel regal, choosing his Dodge Challenger SRT8 when he feels the need for some American muscle and opting for his Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG when it’s all business.
“My favorite is the Benz because it’s different from my other cars, which are all blacked out,” he describes. This one is matte white with black wheels and black accents.” But all of his whips have one thing in common – Asanti Wheels. “I feel like they have something for every type of car and I like that they have such a large variety to choose from.” Other mods he usually adds include wraps, sound systems and accents, admitting that he can never really leave them completely stock. Right now, there’s only one ride that’s missing in Ayers’ fleet – a McLaren, which he says he wants in a bright, bold color. Although he’s not trying to make any big car purchases any time soon, he does admit that his next car will definitely be his new dream ride.
Until then, he’ll be grinding it out on the field every game day for the Colts, despite almost playing for his hometown team. “Yeah I was excited about it – who wouldn’t want to go back home and play, but everything happens for a reason,” he says. “But I’m just excited to play football in general. I’m happy to have the opportunity and grateful to still be in the NFL, playing for a great team.”