While most child actors grow up to continue a career in the entertainment industry, C.J Sanders, who gave life to a young Ray Charles in the autobiographical film “Ray,” decided to pursue a different career. He’s now a handsome young man and prominent college football player.
Sanders was 8-year-old when he got to share the screen with Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington and Sharon Warren on the 2004 musical biographical film “Ray.” There, he gave life to a young Ray Charles, earning several award nominations for his performance, including a Black Reel Award, an NAACP Image Award, an OFTA Award, and a Young Artist Award.
After the film, C.J went on to make small appearances on TV series like “Six Feet Under,” “Judging Amy,” “Cold Case,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Saved.”
His last appearance on screen was on the 2009 TV movie “Kid Edition.” Then, following his other dream, Sanders started playing football, like his father and step-father.
Chris Sanders, C.J’s dad, is a former Tennessee Titans wide receiver, and his step-father, Corey Harris, is a former safety who played 12 seasons in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.
C.J attended Brentwood Academy in Tennessee for his first three seasons. Then, he moved to California with his family and enrolled on Notre Dame High School, where he spent his senior year working in ramping up his football career to get a scholarship.
With 35 catches for 562 yards and eight touchdowns, Sanders was categorized as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and was rated as the 37th best wide receiver prospect of his class. He even got a shout-out from Jamie Foxx on Twitter at the time, who congratulated him for signing with Notre Dame.
In early 2015, the University of Notre Dame offered the young man a scholarship, and he signed with their team. He spent two years with them and has been playing with the SMU Mustangs, the group that represents the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, since last year.
Sanders is passionate and focused on football, so it’s highly unlikely he will return to working in front of the cameras shortly. However, several football stars have transitioned to TV successfully, like Michael Strahan, Dwayne Johnson, Jim Brown and more, so maybe Sanders will have a place in the entertainment industry if his football career fails.
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