"Snoop is definitely one of my biggest role models and a mentor of mine since being young," the quarterback of the Houston Texans tells PEOPLE exclusively
When chatting about his latest partnership with Cheetos, the quarterback of the Houston Texans opened up to PEOPLE about his relationship with the rapper while reflecting on the time they spent together on the gridiron.
"I played for his league," Stroud, 22, tells PEOPLE exclusively of the Grammy winner's Snoop Youth Football League (SYFL). "He was one of the coaches that was running the league and he was part of the team that I was on."
Founded by Snoop in 2005, SYFL is a nonprofit organization that gave inner-city kids the chance to play football. "I was probably like sixth, seventh, eighth grade — around middle school," says Stroud of when he played for the league.
The Texans QB opened up about his bond with the rap icon on the heels of Snoop expressing the gratitude he feels when watching his former youth athletes thrive as professionals in the sport, saying on The Rich Eisen Show that he feels like a "proud father."
The "Gin & Juice" hitmaker also recalled Stroud, specifically, being “so laser-focused” and spiritual.
“He’s so positive,” Snoop said. “That’s what I like about him is that he’s pushing a different narrative than a lot of these other guys in the league. He’s pushing a real narrative of spirit love and just being a voice of positivity.”
The respect of talented is reciprocated between Snoop and Stroud, who says the rapper "is definitely one of my biggest role models and a mentor of mine since being young." He adds, "He's always been there."
The former Ohio State University player went on to explain how Snoop is "more so just like one of us" in comparison to the "celebrity" status people may equate to him. "He grew up like us, understands our struggle and our mindsets."
Stroud, who grew up in Rancho Cucamonga, California, has opened up in the past about his journey to the top — and how it's been anything but easy. But throughout his childhood, Snoop was there for him and his teammates.
"He used to invite us to his house and things like that," says Stroud. "That goes a long way. It just seemed like it is more than where you come from. There's a lot more to life and he showed us that... So definitely really appreciative and grateful for Coach Snoop and everything that he's done."
He adds, "I'm still in contact with him and he's been a blessing on my life for sure."
Stroud — who was drafted by the Texans as the second overall pick during the 2023 NFL Draft in April — led the Texans to the NFL divisional round in his first season this year, before losing to the Baltimore Ravens on Jan 20.
As a rookie quarterback, Stroud finished the regular season with 4,108 yards and 23 touchdowns. He threw 499 passes and completed 319 of them for a 63.9 completion percentage. Now, he's nominated for the "Rookie of the Year" award at the 2024 NFL Honors on Feb. 8.
But the NFL Honors isn't the only event that's bringing Stroud out to Las Vegas ahead of the Super Bowl. The star athlete also is teaming up with Cheetos to host an epic watch party, giving one lucky fan the chance to win an exclusive Big Game viewing experience.
"Cheetos was one of my favorite snacks growing up, so I was really excited to partner with something that's a childhood memory, says Stroud, who'll be on-site to meet and greet the fan.
"I think it's a cool experience and I'm super blessed to be able to work with Cheetos," he adds.
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Read the original article on People.