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Ex-Raider Finds Second Career
Henry Lawrence moves from the football field to the big screen in the movie "Lithium Springs".

PALMETTO - For 13 NFL seasons, Palmetto resident Henry Lawrence held off defenders as an offensive tackle for the Oakland Raiders.

Originally from New York, Lawrence moved to Palmetto where he attended Palmetto Lincoln High School before transferring to Manatee High School for his senior year. He began playing football in ninth grade, playing several different positions.

"In my mind, I was going to be a receiver, and one of the coaches tricked me," Lawrence said.

His athleticism on the field was rewarded with All-American, All-State, All-County and All-Conference honors. While Lawrence excelled on the football field, he admits he had no real concept of turning football into a career.

"When I got to high school, my goal was to graduate, and then go to college," Lawrence said. "I wanted to go to law school."

Lawrence attended FLorida A&M, where he studied law for one quarter. On the field, he continued to excel. In his second year, Lawrence played defensive end and linebacker. Lawrence said defense was his specialty, but his coaches wanted him to switch to offensive tackle. After talking to his coaches, he made the switch to tackle and played the position for the remainder of his career.

In the 1974 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders selected Lawrence as the 19th overall pick in the first round. Since that time, no player from Florida A&M has been drafted in the first round. During his career, Lawrence was named to the Pro Bowl twice both in 1983 and 1984 and played in the Super Bowl in 1976, 1980 and 1983, earning three championship rings. He retired from the game in 1986 and although he said he still finds himself enjoying the game, he has other interests that now capture his attention.

"I watched more football this past weekend than I have watched in quite some time, but I don't go out of my way to find a TV," Lawrence said.

New Career Path

After retiring from football 20 years ago, Lawrence continues to make a name for himself through entertainment.

Growing up, Lawrence always had an interest and passion for being on stage.

"I did stage throughout school, and I did at least one production a year" Lawrence said. "My teacher wanted me to switch over to speech and drama."

His love of being on stage has led to several movie appearances. Lawrence starred in the HBO movie series "1st and Ten" and had a cameo in the film "Instinct". He also has been in several commercials including MIller LIte and Nike.

In his latest role, Lawrence plays Bobby, the childhood friend of the film's main character, in the film "Lithium Springs." THe movie, which was filmed in 2004, tells the story of a man named Evinrude Jones who locates a map of Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Evinrude and his trusty dog Fred set out on a journey to find the Fountain of Youth and a long-lost treasure buried in the swamp by de Leon several centuries ago. Throughout their journey, the two are faced with mystical woods people, greedy land developers and the lure of romance.

"It's about preserving our environment," Lawrence said. "The movie points out how our wild lands are disappearing so fast and it really makes you wonder."

In addtiion to his roles on the big screen, Lawrence also entertains audiences through vocal performances, including R&B, blues and gospel, at local venues. Lawrence also has a music ministry, which he has taken to different prisons across the state.

For more information on Lithium Springs visit the film's Web site at
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By Jen Ball
Staff Writer
The North Manatee Observer Palmetto, FL
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