Drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2014, Pierre Desir spent time with the Chargers and Seahawks before arriving in Indianapolis in 2017 - and once he did, there was no turning back. "I made a decision to change my outlook on how I viewed my experience in the NFL," he said. "I started looking at myself like, 'What do I need to work on? How do I need to be a better professional? What do I need to do for nutrition? How can I improve my study habits?'" And it paid off - just not right away. "When I first got here, I didn't play, but it felt different. I was very positive. There was nothing that could happen here that I hadn't experienced." For Pierre, Indianapolis was the right place at the right time. He worked his way into the lineup and proved himself as a starter. In 2018, the Colts extended his contract for another year. He established himself as a standout corner, capable of lining up against the most talented wide receivers in the NFL. In 2019, he was rewarded with a new three-year contract. "It was one of best feelings I ever had. I was able to share it with everyone who helped me get to that point," he said. "I just thought about all the tough times. It was very emotional. I was just very blessed and very thankful." A selfless player, Pierre doesn't hesitate to contribute to his team in any way he can. "For the betterment of the team, you have to be selfless. You have to be able to take a rep on the scout team. You have to be able to take time out and help the younger guys or anyone else and bring them along - because you're going to need everyone." In doing so, he's garnered the respect, admiration, and trust of his teammates, coaches, and everyone around him. "Pierre defines professionalism. He is a guy who is always prepared, he's always focused, he's a guy that young guys can easily follow - on and off the field. He's consistent. He's trustworthy. He's a guy you can rely and count on all the time," said David Thornton, Colts Director of Player Engagement. "The true mark of a good leader is their ability to help those around them become better. Pierre is definitely one of those individuals who makes those around him better." In 55 games and 30 starts in five seasons with the Colts, Chargers, and Browns, Pierre has totaled 182 tackles (140 solo), 3.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions, 26 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2019, he's played in six games (five starts) and has accumulated 23 tackles (18 solo), 1.0 tackle for loss, three passes defensed and one interception. But the real impact he has on his team and his teammates is immeasurable.
Pierre has been a constant presence in the Indianapolis community this year, supporting events hosted by his team, his teammates, his community, and himself. "That's part of the job, to use our platform to reach out to the community, to the people, to show them that we still care," he said. "Even the day after a game, we're still going to be out supporting the community - whatever efforts we can do." From the Draft Day party at Riley Hospital for Children, the Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, Colts skills camp, youth football camps, and pampering breast cancer patients to Jack Doyle's bowling event for the Dayspring Center, Anthony Castonzo's Monday Night Madness for Kids' Voices, and Kenny Moore's football camp in Georgia - Pierre supports his teammates' events with as much enthusiasm as he does his own. "He's always looking for ways to quietly help others," said Thornton. "He doesn't do it for the recognition. He privately and quietly goes behind the scenes and does so much to help people - not only here in Indianapolis, but back in his hometown." During the bye week, Pierre went home to St. Charles, Missouri to cut the ribbon on the performance center he donated $185,000 to build at his high school. While he was there, he also hosted a day camp, had lunch with scholars from the Multicultural Achievement Committee, spoke to the varsity team before the football game, and was honored at halftime when they retired his jersey. "I have so many connections with that school. For me to go back and give back and show my appreciation to them - it was definitely special," he said. "I learned a lot from my coaches and my teachers in high school. I try to pass that on and help kids get to where they want to go." Pierre has a mantra, P.U.S.H., that he uses to motivate young people at dozens of events he speaks at every year. "I try to let kids know that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Always push - be persistent, utilize opportunities, sacrifice, and hustle. Always have a positive outlook, no matter what - and anything can happen." Pierre also has a ticket block to host families from the Dream Alive Foundation at Colts games. He's committed to heading up a Thanksgiving meal distribution on behalf of the Colts defensive backs, is the designated player representative for Samaritan's Feet, and plans to host a holiday shoe distribution in his hometown in December. In addition, he donated more than $3,200 to help cover the funeral costs of a young girl whose life was cut short by cancer and represented the Colts in the Children's Bureau Celebrity Cook-Off.
From the day he arrived in Indianapolis, Pierre established himself as a team guy, a community advocate, and a leader. "Pierre came in and because of his humble spirit and kind personality, guys immediately gravitated to him," said Thornton. "He really understands that the platform he's been blessed with isn't about him - it's an opportunity for him to uplift and inspire others. And he's found numerous ways to do that." A regular at Colts Community Mondays, he's hosted a football camp in his hometown for the past two years, been an annual participant in the Colts defensive backs' Thanksgiving meal distribution, served as motivational speaker to youth groups and teams, and visited with youth at the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center. For Pierre, investing in young people is a priority. He leads by example with his work ethic and decision-making and serves as a role model in every possible way. "For me, it's trying to show kids that there are so many things that they can do. Whatever they want to do, just helping them find an outlet," he said. "No dream is too big." His approachable demeanor and engaging personality puts others at ease and allows him to connect with people of all age. But it's in the company of young people where he really shines - and that's where he dedicates most of his time.
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, missionaries helped Pierre and his family relocate to St. Louis, Missouri when he was 4-years-old. "Here I am, a Haitian kid coming in - I had to learn English quickly and try to balance this culture and that culture. Even at 4, it was overwhelming." His parents worked multiple jobs to support the family and give their children a better life. Their sacrifice wasn't lost on Desir, though he didn't fully appreciate it until later in life. In high school, he switched from playing soccer to football and though he was new to the game, he showed enough promise to catch the attention of college coaches. Around that same time, he became a father. "It changed my perspective on everything.
A young 16-year-old kid thinking I'm invincible - now I'm a 16-year-old kid that has to be responsible for somebody and take care of someone," he said.
"Luckily for me, I had a strong support system of family and friends. It showed me who really was there for me and in my corner during that time. And then once I fell in love with football and started chasing my dream of playing in the NFL, they didn't want me to quit on that dream." Pierre committed to his young family and the game he loved - working his way through college and generating NFL interest from a Division II college. Once he achieved his dream of playing in the NFL, it was still a difficult journey as he tried to balance football and family while drifting from team to team. Those early struggles continue to drive him, even now that he's a standout player and leader. They also inspire him to give back and encourage young people - including his own children - to follow their dreams and help others along the way. "The most important thing for me is to try to show my kids how important it is to give back. My kids can be doctors, they can be teachers, they can be whatever they want - but I want them to be good people. It doesn't take much to be a good person. That's what I try to show them with everything I do - get them involved and embrace them in that life of helping others." Without the help of others, Pierre wouldn't be an American. He wouldn't be a high school or college graduate. He wouldn't be playing in the NFL. And he wouldn't be living the American dream. Faith gave him the belief. Passion drove him. Ambition fueled him. And gratitude inspires him. Pierre's life mission is to take the goodwill bestowed on him and pay it forward - investing in the next generation and inspiring them to follow their dreams.
When Pierre first arrived in the Colts locker room, he was surrounded by veteran players who showed him how it's done. "I was like, 'Man, you can do it all. You can play well and you can help?' They were good character guys and I think we have a lot of those guys on our team." By embracing the culture around him, in just three seasons, Pierre has gone from looking to others to having others look to him. "It's a different role, but I embrace it. I try to give everything I can. I want us to win and it feels great when we win as a team. I just try to do everything I can to help." During his time in Indianapolis, Pierre has quickly risen to the top - as a standout defensive player and a standup guy - on the field and off. "He's committed to all the right things," Thornton said, "he's committed to his family, he's committed to his faith, he's devoted to the community, and he's committed to our team." A devoted husband and father, passionate player, inspiring leader, and selfless giver - the Indianapolis Colts are proud to nominate Pierre for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.