Binda Jr. Breaks Through

Joseph “JoJo” Binda Jr. is no stranger to obstacles. As a running back for the University of San Diego football team, Binda has had his share of hurdles, however most of them have been off the field.

“I’m an energetic guy,” says Binda. “Growing up it was kind of dark. So you have to be the light in the room sometimes.” 

Binda, who was born in the Caribbean seas of Liberia, moved with his family to the United States when he was two, settling in Providence, R.I. During his childhood, Binda attended five different schools. This constant movement made it difficult for him to make friends and focus — prompting Binda to start skipping school. 

However, realizing how important an education would be, Binda moved to Lynnwood, Wash., to live with his father and go to high school. From there Binda attended Saddleback College, a community college in Mission Viejo, Calif. A member of the football team there, Binda spent his days on campus and on the field, but spent some nights sleeping in his car. 

“I remember a specific incident. It was a Friday night and we had just finished practice. I went back to my car, because at that time I was [living] in my car. I had finished my homework and I sat down and thought that tomorrow I was going to play so hard,” says Binda. “I use the energy I feel during my bad situations and I go out to the field and I express it.” 

Binda’s humor and positivity fills any room. Transferring to USD from Saddleback, Binda is in his first semester on campus, pursuing a clinical psychology degree. Yet, in a few short months, this junior has made a name for himself. He participated in Student Support Services' Summer Bridge program for incoming college students and sang a song to emerge as a co-winner of Summer Bridge's student talent show. Walking across campus, Binda smiles and says “hi” to everyone, even those he doesn’t know. 

“I’ve been like this since I was age five,” he says. “Why not take the chance? Why not sit next to a stranger and just get to know them? I love understanding other people and when I come into a room, I make sure people remember me as the person who can smile with them and laugh with them. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through in life. It matters how you can impact other people.” 

New to the Torero football team, Binda has been the Toreros' second-leader rusher, averaging more than four yards per carry with five touchdowns. With his help, the Toreros are once again top contenders for the Pioneer Football League title. While he does have dreams of an NFL career, Binda sees his role as helping others going through similar situations, showing them that anything is possible if they work hard and stay committed to their dreams. 

“I’m going to try every day to grow better as a person and help my teammates out and always be there for them when they need me. To be the person they can count on and to be a Changemaker. To be the person who wants to change the world,” says Binda. 

The path here hasn’t been easy for Binda, but the hurdles have and continue to shape him into the person he becomes as he continues to “feed his dreams.” 

— Allyson Meyer ’16

Video of Joseph Binda Jr. courtesy of Fox Sports San Diego