Leland Melvin is the most amazing man you probably never heard of. If you recognize him, it might be from his viral NASA photo featuring him and his dogs Jake and Scout. It’s a photo that’s guaranteed to make you smile. You should look it up if you haven’t seen it.
As much as that picture deserves all the attention it’s received, what’s more impressive is the man in the photo. Leland is the only person to have caught a pass in a professional football game and in space. That’s right, he was drafted into the NFL, and later on in life, became an astronaut. Holding a position in two of the top ten dream jobs for American boys is already a stunning accomplishment, but it becomes inspirational when you hear about the hardships that Melvin faced along the way.
Melvin’s football career was short, plagued with hamstring injuries that wouldn’t allow him to continue. A dream was crushed, but his spirit wasn’t broken. Melvin went back to school and got his master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering, not giving up his drive for success. He eventually applied for, and was accepted into, NASA’s astronaut program and began preparations to go into space. During a routine training exercise, he suffered an ear injury that caused him to go deaf. But he persevered again and regained enough hearing to shoot into the cosmos, becoming one of only a few minority men and women to fly in space.
Today, Melvin is focused on inspiring the next generation to get involved in pursuing a career in STEAM fields. He has an infectious hope that humankind is strong, and believes every person can thrive if given the right tools. He’s on a mission to deliver these tools, along with a message of inspiration, to whoever needs it. Recently, Leland was in Malawi with girls who have endured the harshest of realities, inspiring them to code. He says that if he had a superpower, it would be to “motivate every child to believe in their potential.”
Melvin wears the Jetsetter Stretch Dress Shirt (limited edition) in Navy Butterflies.
Although he’s reached the stars, inspiring younger generations to push farther into the cosmos is his greatest challenge yet. Leland not only possessed the talents necessary to achieve what he wanted, but he had the passion and grit to overcome the stumbling blocks he faced along the way. As he channels his boundless energy to spread that same passion and drive to our future engineers, scientists and artists, Leland Melvin is becoming a major contributor to humanity’s progress for years to come.
Top: Melvin wears the Jetsetter Italian Wool Topcoat in Burgundy, the Superfine Merino Silk Crew Neck Sweater in Burgundy, and the Weekday Warrior Dress Pants in Friday Grey.
Photographed by Jason Frank Rothenberg